Using Historypin

Historypin is an interactive website that allows you to add photographic images, audio-visual content and descriptive text to online maps. This activity uses Historypin and the Library catalogue to build a richer understanding of the history of significant places.

This activity is linked to the Uncovering places inquiry unit and is targeted at students in Year 2.

Before starting this activity with students, familiarise yourself with Google maps – particularly its 'street view' feature – and Historypin (watch a useful overview).

Tuning in

  • Introduce students to Google maps on a smartboard or projector. Locate local landmarks like your school or a shopping area, and display these using the 'street view' function.
  • Choose an interstate or overseas location to demonstrate that 'street view' can show distant locations as well.
  • Introduce students to Historypin. Show photos that other users have pinned and demonstrate how to fade in the 'street view'. Check your local area for pinned images.


  • Outline to students that you will be looking for images to pin on Historypin. Open the Library's online catalogue and explain that, in addition to books, the Library collects images which help to explain the story of Victoria over time. Demonstrate how to search for an image on the Library catalogue to pin to Historypin 'street view' (watch an instructional video).
  • Divide students into groups with internet access and check their browsers are displaying the Library catalogue search page.
  • Brainstorm possible search terms to find images of your local area – for example local suburbs, significant landmarks, major roads, railway stations and shopping centres.
  • Let students search for images of your area from the Library catalogue using keywords from the brainstorm list or other search terms they have devised.
  • When students locate a likely image, check it is relevant and suitable.
  • Once all groups have found some images, share these with the whole class. Note which image is the oldest by looking at its date of creation. Decide as a class which images you will add to Historypin.
  • Gather details (such as title, creation date and tags) of the chosen images. Add the images to Historypin using your account. It may be worthwhile to pin one or two in front of the class to demonstrate the process.
  • Share the pinned images with the class. This is particularly effective if you have been able to match images to 'street view'.


  • What other sources of images, aside from the Library, might you go to for Historypin? Consider family members, historical societies and school archives. If these sources are easy to access, and owners consent  to share their images, you can add these to your Historypin account.
  • Ask students which images they would most like to see on Historypin. Discuss whether these images are likely to exist, and if so, where they could be found and whether they might be accessible for pinning.
  • Which images, if any, might you not want to see on Historypin?
  • Brainstorm uses for Historypin. 
  • Ask students who they would most like to show Historypin to.