Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Google SketchUp at Greenfield Primary

I have had the pleasure over the last two weeks, of attending a couple of lessons at Greenfield Primary in Walsall, based on Google SketchUp.  It has been a pleasure for a number of reasons.  Firstly, I've been able to take a back seat and play a supporting role to the class teacher Mr Darcy, who has planned and led both the sessions.  Secondly, because my interest in Google SketchUp had been raised at the Google Teacher Academy, where we were given a presentation by Matt Lovegrove (@mattlovegrove) and (although sadly I missed it) a further session by James Abela (@eslweb).  Finally, because the Year 6 class have taken to it so quickly and are genuinely enthused by the project, even preferring it to their previous Scratch project.

My preparation for the project was to download SketchUp and work my way through the Google SketchUp tutorial videos - the videos are a fantastic starting point and very well put together.  I was also helped by Simon Haughton (@simonhaughton) pointing me in the direction of his blog post which has some lesson ideas and instructions for building a simple house.

In the first lesson, the main objective was to get the children familiar with what Google SketchUp was, and to introduce the Orbit, Pan and Zoom tools to the children, as being able to navigate accurately around your 3D models is such an important part of modelling.  To do this, the teacher encouraged the children to open up a model of the mask of Tutankhamen, as this linked with the topic of the eventual final piece - a recreation of Tutankhamen's tomb - and just navigate around it using the prescribed tools.
Having done this, an Egyptian Tomb was looked at, again to give an idea of what can be achieved and to advance the level of navigation required to walk into rooms rather than just moving around an object - the zoom extents tool became very useful for this as it was easy to 'lose yourself'.  Finally, a simple demonstration of the push/pull tool was given to show the development for the second session and strangely enough, led to an outbreak of houses being drawn - the activity for the second session!

Before the second session, many of the children had downloaded SketchUp at home and had already explored many of the tools, some even brought in pictures of houses they'd designed. Therefore, the session began with a recap of the previous tools and some examples of what had been created at home.  Then the line draw and move tools were demonstrated as a way of creating a slanting roof - this is covered in both the tutorial videos and Simon's lesson plan.  Pupils seemed amazed at how SketchUp was able to 'anticipate' what they were trying to do, snapping to edges, midpoints and to the 3 axis directions to help with accurate drawing.  After the main structures were created, 2 further tools were demonstrated, the paint tool to create textures and translucent windows and the 3D warehouse to add models to the pupil's work.  In little under an hour, every group was able to create a house and you can see the results below.


The children are now going to move on to start to develop their Egyptian Tombs.  The intention is to provide them with a 2D floor plan which they will turn into a 3D plan, and use the 3D warehouse to add appropriate items to the tombs.  Once created, the pupils will use the fly-through tool to create 'tours' of their tombs which hopefully I'll be able to share with you in a later post.  This project has really opened my eyes to the potential of Google SketchUp and I only hope that the recent announcement that SketchUp has been purchased by Trimble doesn't affect education's access to this useful and engaging tool.


  1. Why is this the one session I missed, it looks fab!
    I am definitely going to be there for the next session and try to catch up!

  2. Just to let you know, my presentation can be found at:

    James Abela

  3. Just to add, you can now see more resources on my Website at:

    I hope this is useful.

  4. I would like to teach Google SketchUp to my Year 9 students. I have looked at the online resources at Google. Do you have any recommendations for other training resources? Sue

    1. There's a nice scheme of work on for Year 8 that you might be able to adapt. Year 9 a little out of my comfort zone I'm afraid, I'm mainly primary but if I find anything else, will let you know.

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