Using Google Sheets to make Maps

Northern Lights Blog

Resources and updates about the Northern Lights curriculum


Northern Lights is a comprehensive curriculum for teaching Minnesota Studies at 6th grade. This blog highlights resources, opportunities and teaching tips related to Northern Lights.

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Using Google Sheets to make Maps

By: Shana Crosson | Tech Tips | January 27, 2017

Here’s a fun Google trick to get your students using maps to show data. (Hat tip to Geoawesomeness for this idea.)

  • Start with a Google spreadsheet  
  • Enter your data. This works best with states, countries and cities. You must use a numerical value. I tried two types of data: one for the status of the states in the Civil War and one showing country of origin for immigrants in 1890 (page 12.04 in the eBook).
  • Select the data to map.
  • Under the Insert menu, select “Chart.”
  • Under Type of Chart, scroll down to Map. Select the type of map you want to use.
  • Use the Customization tab to designate map view and colors.
  • Click Insert. The map will appear in your spreadsheet. You can copy it to use elsewhere.
States during the Civil War

Map of states during the Civil War. To create data for this map, I assigned a numerical value to each category:  Union=1, Confederate=3 and Border=2. I did not assign a value to states that were not yet admitted to the United States.

Map of Immigration Data from 1890

Mapping the numbers of immigrants from certain countries in 1890. Data from Northern Lights, page 242. The size of the dot reflects how many people immigrated from each country.