Sketchup is the neatest software application I discovered in my recent course on Instructional Technology for aspiring educators. It is a free download for educators, and is so easy that the kids will probably outpace their teachers in discovering its capabilities after only a few uses.
I used Sketchup to help me make a model of what "1000" and "1,000,000" looks like for a place value assignment.
However, there are any number of other uses for Sketchup, including designing a robot, making a map to scale of the classroom or a room in one's home, or even recreating ancient architecture. So often, we talk about concepts in schools that are just beyond the student's ability to imagine. It is one thing to see a picture of the pyramids in Egypt, but another entirely to try to recreate the process of building one on a site like Sketchup! The solid engagement that the students exhibit in the case studies on their website is another reason why I feel this software is an excellent addition to any classroom. It is made available to K-12 schools across the country for free!.