My favorite places in the whole world: Google MyMaps tutorial and lesson plan for beginners

In this activity, you will make a map using Google MyMaps, that contains ten of your favorite places in the whole world. These should be 10 point objects added to one map layer. You will also choose a basemap that suits the design of the objects the most.

These objects could be:

  • your favorite meeting place;
  • your favorite café, shop, or mall;
  • your favorite place to go on a holiday
  • the place where you went last summer and fell in love with

First, think about these 10 places. Use a piece of paper to brainstorm and make the list. It is a good idea to have the objects listed before you start making the map.

The theory behind this activity

What is a layer in GIS?

In GIS, a layer is a group of objects from the real world, that have something in common. They don’t appear one by one on GIS maps but are grouped so we can easily work, edit or visualize them, for example, a layer of rivers, a layer of cafes, a layer of shops, etc. Depending on the way these geographical objects look, layers can contain points, lines, polygons, or data represented as pixels (for example satellite images).

What is a basemap?

A basemap is a map layer that provides a basic background of geographical data for a scene or map.

The objective of this activity

is to create a point layer in a web GIS map with a basemap that suits the overall design.

Software and hardware setup

To be able to do the exercise, please create a Gmail account if you don’t have one. Instructions for this can be found here on YouTube or in the Google Help Center.

Step-by-step guide

  • Click “Untitled map” to change the name of your map

  • Type “My 10 favorite places” or choose another name (mapping is a creative process, so you have a freedom 🙂 )
  • Click the “Add a description to help people understand your map” field. This will add a detailed description to your map, so the users looking at it will understand what it is. You can include here your name, affiliation, class or other important information.

  • Click “Save”

  • Click on the name of the layer to change it.

  • Type “My 10 favorite places” or other name that you like. Click Save.

  • Click in the upper menu, on the button that looks like a pin to add your first object to the map.

  • Navigate to the first object you would like to add. Use the mouse to zoom in or out and click to add the first pin. Here the example is showing the Colosseum in Rome.

  • Fill the name and the description of the object.

  • Close the popup.
  • Zoom out and look at the map – you now have one object!
  • Look at the layer on the left side of the screen – there you will see the name of the object and the symbol that represents it. Let’s see how we can change it.
  • Click on the pin that you just added and then on the edit button that looks like a pencil.

  • Choose the symbol and color you like the most. Click on More icons and explore the gallery.

  • Use the filter to search for specific types of symbols that suit your map and object.

  • Click OK and close the popup.
  • Now we will add the second and the third object on the map by using Google search. Start typing the name of the second object in the search bar in the upper part of the screen:

In this example our second object will be the Eiffel tower in Paris, France.

  • When you find the object you want, click “Add to map”.

  • Close the popup. Zoom out and look at the map and the objects in the layers list – the second object is there, listed. You can change the symbol and its color in the same way like in the previous step.
  • Add all the objects from your list on the map.
  • When you are ready, it is time to select the basemap. Click on the label Base map on the left side of the screen, just below the objects of the layer.

  • Choose the one that you like the most.


  • Click “Preview” to see what the map will look like when other users are opening it – now you are seeing it in an edit mode and you like to be sure that it will be nice and tidy.

  • Click “Share” to change the visibility and make your map public.

Congratulations! You just have created your first map in Google MyMaps. It is a web map that contains one layer and one basemap. The layer contains point objects which represent your 10 favorite places in the whole world.

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