The countdown. Hi, Pegman! Image from Santa Tracker.
By Megan G.
So, I had the best job this morning. I got to play around with the Google Santa Tracker, where anyone with an internet connection can “explore, play and learn with Santa’s Elves all December long” and, sweet sugar plums, it’s so much fun.
It’s not every day you see a reindeer shot-gunning a bottle of syrup.
Google is weird sometimes. A good weird, but still… what other internet company would put this much effort into creating a winter wonderland in the midst of all their other ambitious projects? Seriously, look at this place! Those adorable animations took some serious effort.
Who is that giant snowman, and why are his eyebrows so sad? Perhaps later on in the month, we’ll find out.
See that weird plastic tarp covering the leftmost building in the image above? That’s December 3rd’s holiday bundle, and I can’t wait to unwrap it!
The "Track Santa" option
is still locked.
For now, only December 1st and 2nd’s activities are available, but Google will offer a small morsel of holiday cheer each day until Santa takes off on December 24th.
Then, just like last year, web users will be able to track him on his journey, hence the name of this whole project. That tracking will be done with the help of our favorite app—Google Maps.
These games, videos, and other pending entertainments are perfect little distractions for cubicle warriors like me, as well as excellent learning opportunities for all. Don’t let the colorful, light-hearted animations discourage you.
Anyone can learn and have fun in this virtual jaunt through Santa’s Village!
Another Day, Another Activity
Take the first activity of the month, Season of Giving.
These ornaments aren’t just for decoration.
Image from Season of Giving on Santa Tracker.
Here’s the deal: you click on an ornament and Google’s Santa Tracker takes you to a screen with a blank version of the ornament THAT YOU CAN COLOR YOURSELF.
My masterpiece: purple mountain majesty and a demon owl.
This activity also teaches you about the Nature Conservancy, which “works to protect and restore forests in the United States and around the world.” Each ornament represents a different charitable organization, and each of those protects causes such as wildlife preservation, water conservation, solar energy, and international education.
Ah, there’s the Google we know! In addition to flippin’ coloring (admit it, you love it), web users can learn about great causes during the most wonderful time of the year—and perhaps even donate! There are links to each organization’s website on their respective ornaments.
Moving onto the second day of December, Google offers a charming little video of Santa taking a bit too long enjoying his fun in the sun, leaving all of his work to his elves and reindeer! Check out Reindeer Worries down below.
Learning In This Winter Wonderland
While we are only two days into December, there is still a collection of activities to take part in, including Santa’s Code Lab!
Lead the elf to his present through code! Don’t wake the yeti! Image from Code Lab.
Reminiscent of the coding projects available on Google’s Made With Code website, clearly this section of Santa Tracker is aimed at aspiring coders of all ages, including kids.
Visitors can also learn about holiday traditions across the globe via pins on a virtual map.
Image from Santa Tracker Traditions.
My favorite story is the evil Christmas Cat of Iceland that eats anyone who hasn’t bundled up properly for winter. Sounds like a great reason not to throw out that ugly Christmas sweater!
Little Timothy forgot his scarf and mittens…
Image from Stuck in Iceland.
Last but not least, there’s the North Pole Airport game. Being the simple ingrate I am, I found the most enjoyment causing absolute chaos at the village airport.
See the image below? Everything’s going smoothly; the elves are suiting up for work… though I’m not sure where they’re all headed during such a crucial time of year. Perhaps elvish trade deals must be dealt across seas...
See that big, red lever there? That is the instrument of your destruction.
Image from North Pole Airport.
...And then you pull the lever, making the conveyor belt move faster and faster until eventually elves cannot get dressed fast enough and—somehow—even reindeer get caught in the crossfire of hats, coats, and shoes.
Just some of the shenanigans
going down in the dressing line.
In short, this site is loads of fun and shouldn’t be missed by anyone looking to laugh and learn during the holiday season.
I could continue to tell you about all the fun things you can do in Santa’s Village… but you should really go see for yourself just how magical it is!
Get on over to Santa’s Village and tell us about your adventures. What did you see? What did you learn? Leave your answers in the comment section below.