This week is National Story Telling Week and we wanted to take the opportunity to show some examples of how stories can be brought to life using maps.

Our first story is that of Charles Darwin and the voyage of the Beagle.  The Beagle sailed in December 1831 until its return in October 1836.  Charles Darwin was onboard and made notes on species which hinted at the fixity of species.  Upon his return he developed his theories on evolution through common descent and natural selection.  The map below brings to life the voyage that helped shape these theories.

We demonstrated how Digimap for Schools can be used to recount the story of an historic event. The historic event described was the sinking of HMS Iolaire near Stornoway on the 1st January 1919 with the loss of 205 local men returning from WWI, one of the worst maritime disasters in UK waters during the 20th century.

The example below uses Digimap for Schools to map a timeline of the tragic events on the night of the sinking of HMS Iolaire.


What is Geo-spatial data

This is a great tweet, highlighting the range of industries that geo-spatial data is used in.

Digimap for Schools was established with this goal in mind… to expose children to geo-spatial data at a young age so they could start developing these skills. These skills are becoming increasingly in demand as well! #nevertooyoungtostart #startmappingsearly


The *NEW* Digimap for Schools

Today was the launch of our new, updated version of Digimap for Schools.


So… what’s new?

We’ve added Global Maps! The authoritative Collins Bartholomew World Panorama map, providing a clear, definitive, global view.  We’ve also added the global, detailed street level mapping from OpenStreetMap.

We’ve also added some new and improved features!

  • Improved drawing tools.
  • Simple map selector tool.
  • Overlays menu: add global place names, postcodes, British National Grid and the major lines of latitude and latitude/longitude grid.
  • Enhanced printing.
  • Global search gazetteer.
  • Coordinate capture tool.

Here’s a quick video showing some of the changes.

Click here to view the embedded video.

SAGT Conference 2019

On October 26th , the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers (SAGT) held its annual event at the fantastic location of Dollar Academy. This years theme was ‘making connections’ which resonated across the various keynotes and seminar events throughout the day.

Attended by over 100 delegates with around a dozen publishers in attendance, the event was both a useful networking, professional development and clarion call for improving the visibility and relevance of geography as an academic discipline in schools. The very real relevance of the subject was admirably highlighted by the two keynote addresses.

First up was Professor Lorna Dawson CBE , Head of Forensic Soil Science at the James Hutton Institute. A geography graduate, she went on to illustrate how place and location permeate all aspects of her post university professional career and provided a clear and inspirational exemplar of how geography matters in the real world. As a forensics soil scientist she illustrated how her work, founded in geography, is used to help prosecute criminal cases and how she assists fiction authors to improve the science behind their writings – from Val McDermid to Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves. More soberly, she described a range of criminal prosecution cases in which soil science has been used to implicate or confirm the whereabouts of suspects. As an example of a career path to which geography can lead this was an immediately engaging and exciting one to entice the younger geographers of tomorrow and several delegates requested access to some of Lornas presentation in order to help engage students in the classroom!

In  a similar but very different vein, the second keynote speaker, Doug Allan FRGS, Wildlife and Documentary Cameraman whose work includes the award winning polar bear and penguin scenes seen in the David Attenborough documentaries, was also fantastically engaging. Using both stunning visuals from his work (including video footage of a near miss with a a collapsing glacier), and a humorous series of anecdotes of life in the wilderness (anyone keen to ‘mintify’ their peas for dinner  might not immediately think of adding toothpaste!), the talk was an impassioned plea to act now to stop climate change and preserve our planet for all its denizens. Geographers are ideally placed to lead the charge and in many ways today’s geography teachers can ride the crest of societal focus on the environment to better engage and enthuse tomorrows geography citizens.

A range of separate seminars in morning and afternoon sessions covered a variety of topics from school resources for learning and teaching to more introspective assessment of the current state of and the future of Scottish school geography and the Scottish curricula.

Finishing off the day was the annual SAGT AGM and a final round of thanks to all participants and delegates for making the day interactive, fun and informative.

Learning Grid References

Digimap for Schools uses the Ordnance Survey National Grid as part of our service.  The National Grid is a unique reference system made up of 100 kilometre grid squares identified by two letters which spans the whole of Great Britain. Grid Ref Map

The National Curriculum now specifics that 4 and 6 figure grid references are now to be undertaken in KS1 and KS2.

The Ordnance Survey have a fantastic webpage that gives very clear and simple instructions to help with conveying these concepts.  The website is available here:


It also has some magnificient YouTube videos which are very short on 4 and 6 figure grid reference.

Always remember this simple tip when learning or teaching Grid References! :

“Along the corridor, THEN up the stairs!”

Outdoor Classroom Day – 7th Nov 2019

Just a quick reminder that outdoor classroom day is on 7th of November!

Digimap for Schools has lots of free resources to help with outdoor learning as well.  That can be accessed from our free learning resources centre here: https://dfsresources.edina.ac.uk/resources/subject/outdoor-learning-97.


To find out more information click the image or link below:


New Map Skills game by the Ordnance Survey

Just came across this randomly…  This would be a fantastic way of kids learning map skills!

I notice theres a few maps included in the board game, but I’m pretty sure you could print out some Digimap for Schools A4 maps and ‘freshen up’ the game with some more local activities if needed 😉

After all it is only 79 days to Christmas… perhaps a good educational gift idea 🙂