Animated Earth

I love Geography. I had a wonderful Geography teacher who instilled in me a love for the subject and a curiosity about our physical landscape. 

But, it is often difficult for learners to visualise the slow movement of tectonic plates, the processes beneath the crust or the forces at work along plate boundaries from static images and textbooks alone. 

Animation with Keynote for iPad has transformed how my students can engage with and learn about these geographic concepts.

This activity allows us to bring geographic landforms and processes to life in the classroom, whilst simultaneously allowing students to develop key digital skills. 

In this lesson, students demonstrated an understanding of continental drift in Geography class by creating an animated video using Keynote for iPad.


Screenshot of three Keynote slides showing Pangaea on slide 1, and the continents as we know them today on slides 2 and 3.

Learning Objectives for this lesson:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of Continental Drift.
  • Create a short animated video to illustrate the process, with voiceover.
  • Draw and label a world map with continents & tectonic plates.

Drawing and animation with Keynote for iPad allowed students to demonstrate a key geographic concept in a more creative way. The ability to show the movement of tectonic plates is only possible using animation. The combination of drawing, animation, voiceover and video challenged students to show understanding in a multimodal format.

Students demonstrated their learning by:

  • Drawing/Tracing a map of the world in Keynote using the Drawing Tools
  • Labelling continents and tectonics plates
  • Demonstrating the process of Continental Drift using a Magic Move transition
  • Recording a voiceover to show their understanding

Part 1 — Draw the continents

To trick with this animation is to start by working backwards: 

  • Insert a map of the world onto a slide in Keynote. 
  • Trace around each continent and other major land masses using the Drawing Tools.
  • Fill each continent and land mass with the same colour as your traced outline using the Fill Tool.
  • Delete the original map.
  • Change the background colour to blue to represent the ocean. 
  • Draw around each continent using the Selection Tool. Then tap ‘Separate’. Repeat this to separate all continents and major land masses. 


Keynote slide with a drawing of the continents. Selection Tool is used to select a continent, with an option to separate it.

Part 2 — Duplicate and animate

  • Duplicate the slide.
  • On the first slide, group all of the continents together in the centre to represent the supercontinent, Pangaea. 
  • Tap the first slide thumbnail > Tap Transition > Apply a Magic Move Transition. 

When prompted, don’t duplicate the slide. You already have both of the slides you need: slide 1 (Pangaea) which will move to slide 2 (the continents we know today) using a Magic Move Transition.

  • Change the transition duration to about 8-9 seconds. 
  • Add text and labels to both slides. 


Keynote slide with an annotated drawing of Earth’s continents and tectonic plate boundaries.

Part 3 — Create a video with voiceover

  • Create a screen recording. 
  • Add the video to iMovie, and add a voiceover recording and soundtrack.
  • Export and save your video to complete the activity. 

(Alternatively, turn on the mic and add the voiceover as you create the screen recording)


If you would like to try it out and skip straight to the animation, I have attached a Keynote document with one slide completed. This includes all of the continents, drawn and separated. Then continue from the 7th step above (‘Duplicate the slide’).

This lesson formed part of my Apple Teacher Portfolio as an ‘Apply’ lesson, but could be easily adapted and used as an ‘Explore’ lesson depending on the age, skill level, positioning and depth of the activity. There are opportunities for the lesson to be simplified or shortened (i.e. leave out the voiceover part) or for extension activities.

I used this activity with my 1st Year Geography class (12-13 years old), but it could easily be used in different contexts with other age groups too!


All Replies

Posted on November 03, 2022

I was wondering where you got your geography passion Eoin - of course, a teacher! This is such a creative project that assesses the content knowledge so well. I love how you outline the Keynote skills that students can easily follow and that the learners then have two ways to do voice overs. I wish I was in your class!

Posted on November 05, 2022

It’s *always* a teacher, isn’t it? ☺️

Thanks so much, Cheryl! I love to use activities like this to give students an opportunity to show their understanding and content knowledge — and with lots of choice and options to personalise!

Posted on November 04, 2022

Really well done! Thank you for sharing.

Posted on November 07, 2022

Thank you so much, KipK!

Always happy to share my resources and, hopefully, others find them helpful and useful in the classroom with their students!

Posted on November 07, 2022

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing. How long did it take for you to create?

Posted on November 10, 2022

Thank you, JJ!

It’s pretty quick for me make or even demo live in class for students — I can do a rough version in about 5-10 minutes.

But, with students, timing will vary a lot depending on a number of factors:

  • How experienced the students are using their iPad to create - particularly using the Keynote drawing tools and the Magic Move transition.
  • Whether the activity is used when student are first learning the subject content or whether it is part of review, revision or as a creative assessment (where - hopefully - they already know the subject content).

So, it might vary from anywhere between 20 minutes to closer to an hour depending on these factors.

Using the template (attached above) and a simple screen recording with voiceover at the same time would considerably cut down on the time needed.

However, this year, I got my new 1st Year students to do it all — from drawing, animating, screen recording and adding voiceover and a soundtrack in iMovie — as I wanted them to learn these key productivity and creation skills, which were new to them all. Which was great, because they were constantly engaging with the subject content throughout the process.

Posted on November 08, 2022

This is fantastic! Bookmark for later for sure!

Posted on November 10, 2022

Thanks so much, Hannamarie!

I hope you find it useful with your students!

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