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Latitude and Longitude

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Here are some activities to reinforce the concept of latitude and longitude.

Latitude/ Longitude Battleship
Posted by: Tracy

After teaching my 6th grade students about the lines of longitude and latitude, I play battleship with them in class. I clear the desks to the sides of the room and create a huge grid on the floor with masking tape. Then I label all the lines either latitude or longitude. When the students come to class they are divided into 2 teams and play similar to the battleship game. 2 students make up a battleship and each side only has 1 battleship at a time. I even make paper hats for the students to wear to represent a hit or a miss. This allows the students to visually see the lines as well as practice saying them correctly.

Longitude and latitude
Posted by: speeder1

When teaching the importance of longitude and latitude lines, my students always like it when I have them to blow up a blue balloon (to represent the Earth), get a permanent marker and sit back to back to each other. Then:

1. I one student try to describe an area/location to the other and have the other student try to find it. When they have difficulty, I then have the class to draw the equator around the balloon.

2. Then I have them to repeat #1. This time they will find it a bit easier but still hard when they can say if the location is above or below the equator.

3. Then I have them to draw some longitude lines (and number them) on the balloon and then repeat #1. Once again it is easier but still difficult to get the same location.

4. I then have them to draw latitude lines (and number them) on the balloon and repeat #1. Still sitting back to back they should be able to have one describe the location and the other student to find the same location on their balloon.

I hope I have explained this well enough to use.:s)

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Latitude and Longitude
Posted by: JohnV

If I remember correctly my suggestion was to have the children use the chalk to lay out a grid on your parking lot or paved playground. Make a zero line North to South (Prime Meridian) and a zero line East to West (the Equator), then make other grid lines and label them in degrees North and South of the Equator and East and West of the Prime Meridian. Allow the students to compare these lines to the lines on a map and on a globe.

Make "X" marks at various points on your grid. Label some of them with numbers and others of them with letters. Give the students a list of coordinates in Latitude and Longitude to find the letters in order. You can even set it up so that the students don't use all of the letters, but if they find the correct ones in the right order they spell a word. For the numbers have them find the numbers and then write down the coordinates of them.

I hope this is the same thing I told you before.


Posted by: Dawn

What grade are your students? Are you locating places on maps using longitude/latitude? If so, an idea is to plot earthquakes on a world map. I did this for observation in 5th grade. You can go to the website for the US Geological Survey. They have a list of every earthquake, date, and location by long. and lat. Print that out, select which earthquakes you'd like to plot, and then have the students find these on a world map.

One thing I did that the observer really liked is I looked up earthquakes in the birthday year of the students. Almost all had an earthquake (usually a minor one, but still...) on the actual day they were born. They were very excited by this & it motivated them to find the location.

If this doesn't apply to you, maybe someone else can adapt it--good luck!

Longitude and latitude
Posted by: Christy

One thing I did was give out popsicle sticks and had the students write the word longitude on one side going down vertically and then on the other side write latitude horizontally. I let the kids use this as a tool and then eventually most of them didn't need to use it anymore.

Found Lesson Plan for OWA
Posted by: Janie

The teacher who gave me this lesson plan is awesome. He also gave me a cd full of Social Studies activities. I am trying to copy on the SS board for a resource. Enjoy!

An Orange with Attitude
Presented by Purley Decker, AIG 2000

The purpose of this lesson is to help children to visualize the difference between latitude and longitude.

This activity uses oranges to demonstrate the difference between latitude and longitude.

Grade Range:
Grades 3-12

Geography standard: 1

Materials Needed:
One orange for each student plus one for the teacher.
Non-toxic markers.

Students will gain a visual understanding of the difference between latitude and longitude.

1. Give each student an orange and a marker.
2. Tell the students not to peel their oranges.
3. Explain that the stem end of the orange represents the North Pole and the blossom end (navel) represents the South Pole. Have the students label the stem end ¡°N¡± and the blossom end ¡°S¡±.
4. Have the students hold their oranges with the ¡°North Pole¡± up.
5. Have them draw a line around their oranges halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole. Ask them what this line represents. (the Equator).
6. Have them draw a line halfway between the North Pole and the Equator and another halfway between the South Pole and the Equator. Explain that these are the 45th parallels. Tell them that the 45th parallel north crosses through our state just north of New Meadows.
7. Have them draw lines halfway between the 45th parallels and the Equator. These lines represent the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and are the northern and southern borders of the Tropics.
8. Have them draw lines halfway between the 45th parallels and the North and South Poles. These lines represent the Arctic and Antarctic Circles and create the borders of the polar regions of the earth.
9. Ask the students what they notice about their lines on the oranges. (They are parallel and of equal distance apart.)
10. Explain to the students that these lines are called parallels and measure distance north and south of the Equator. These parallel lines are called latitude.
11. Ask the students what word rhymes with latitude and describes their feelings toward learning (both good and bad). ¡°ATTITUDE. If you have a bad attitude, what do you need to do? GET RID OF IT. Now peal your latitude with attitude off of your orange by pealing your orange.¡±
12. Once everyone has pealed their oranges, ask them if they notice any natural lines on their new ¡°globe¡±. They should answer the section lines of the orange. Explain that these lines run from the North Pole to the South Pole or from the South Pole to the North Pole and are farthest apart at the Equator. All of these lines intersect at the poles and are therefore not parallel. We call these lines meridians and they measure longitude or distance east and west of the Prime Meridian.
13. Have the students pick one of the section lines to be their Prime Meridian. Have them locate the meridian on the exact opposite side of their orange. This meridian would be the International Date Line and is 180¢ª East and West of the Prime Meridian.
14. Let the students eat their oranges.

your problem SOLVED
Posted by: suzie

Hi! I teach longitude and latitude to my 4th graders around Halloween. I have each student bring in a pumpkin no bigger than a basketball (can be as small as those gourd-type mini pumpkins). In the days prior to the pumpkin due date, I teach the kids about longitude and latitude using a globe and maps. When they all have their pumpkins, we begin marking them with crayons (they can be wiped off easily if they make a mistake). They immediately notice that the pumpkins naturally have the longitude lines. So we trace those and mark one of the lines as the Prime Meridian. We follow that line around the opposite side of the pumpkin to find and label 180 degrees. Each line to the west we just mark "degrees West" and those to the east we mark "degrees East." We find the center of the pumpkin and mark it as the Equator (0 degrees). We mark the stem as the North Pole and label it 90 degrees North, and the bottom of the pumpkin is the South Pole marked as 90 degrees South. They then draw their own latitude lines above the Equator and mark them degrees North, and a few lines below the Equator marking them degrees South. This lesson is so fun and the kids GET IT!!!!! I usually have them take their pumpkins to a spot in the room and with a partner, review all of the parts of their "Earth Model". I hope this works as well for you as it does for me! Let me know!!!

Posted by: Kathy Westermeyer

Love the pumpkin idea--that's great! I have taught this using a ball and a song. (Sung to the tune: Jingle Bells

Latitude, latitude
Lines go round and round
Measuring north
Measuring south
From the equator
Latitude, latitude,
Lines go round and round
Measuring north,
Measuring south
Those lines of latitude.

Longitude, longitude
Lines go up and down
Measuring east,
Measuring west
From the prime meridian
Longitude, longitude,
Lines go up and down
Measuring east,
measuring west
Those lines of longitude.

Note: While they are singing this it's very important to have the students actually making the imaginary lines of longitude and latitude with their hands. If you use the pumpkin idea, have them trace the lines on the pumpkin with their fingers as they sing.

Worked for my group!!

Use classroom ceiling as grid
Posted by: foxglove


When I introduce latititude and longitude I use the grid on the drop ceiling of the classroom. I label North, South, East and West on the correct walls. Then I label the Prime Meridian and the Equator and label out from those two lines. Then I have the students move their desks so that they are under connecting coordinates and explain the latitude measurement always comes first, then longitude. Then when I throw a ball to a student they must give me the correct coordinates for their location. Then they throw the ball to somene else, etc. After a few moments of that I have students change locations and we do it again. Last year I even had the custodian and principal who thought what we were doing looked like fun and came in and joined us. The custodian was having so much fun he didn't even care I'd used duct tape on the wall to label the lines! :)

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map skills
Posted by: Gina

I learned a little poem from a colleague of mine. The third graders love it. Longitude lines go up and down,, latitude lines go round and round. You can also draw two pictures. The longitude picture is a spider sitting on top of the north pole the spider has LONG legs,, then draw a ladder,, the latitude lines go round and round the rungs of the ladder go back and fourth,,This worked great, when it comes time for a test my students would draw the spider and ladder on their paper to help them remember. The poem is said in a little chant (animated) My students really get into it.

We also draw a map and scale of our school.

message in a bottle
Posted by: Jennie

One activity I use to interest kids in learning latitude and longitude is "message in a bottle." Once I teach the skill, I write down latitude and longitude on a piece of paper and stick it into a bottle. I tell them that the bottle has washed to shore and that there's a map with buried treasure if only they find the right latitude and longitude. They enjoy this activity. You can include an old-looking map, if your want to.

No title
Posted by: Teach'n'Learn

Geocaching! If you can borrow a couple of GPS units, go on a small "treasure hunt" for something on your school grounds.

We just started latitude/longitude. I have the students wave their arms side to side (like they're pulling taffy sideways) and say "Laatiiituuude" then they pull taffy up and down and say "Loooongituuude" to demonstrate which way the lines go.

Then I have a map with latitude and longitude lines on it. We start at one reference point 39N 75 W, for example. They have to get to 43N 79W by pulling a direction card and a card for number of spaces to go. So, if the card says N and 2. They go to 41N 75W. Then they pull W and 3, they have to go to 41N 78W. The goal is to get to your target point in as few cards as possible.

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Remembering latitude and longitude
Posted by: Nik

I show my kids how they can remember by the way their mouth moves when saying the words. When you say laaaaaatitude your mouth goes out side to side. When you say loooooooongitude you mouth goes up and down. Finding the coordinates on a map, however, is still a challange!

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No title
Posted by: Enkidu

For younger, or inclusion, students, find a flat projection map that will fit on a regular sized piece of paper. Glue it onto cardstock.

Take two different colors of yarn, and thread one around the width, and one around the length, of the paper. They can move the strings until they intersect at the correct point.

For older kids, or those without learning issues, "just do it." I tell the kids I am not going to help them much by talking, it was one of those things we just had to do. They get it quickly once they practice. Big desk maps are the best, so they can run their fingers or the eraser end of a pencil along the lines.

I wish that the people who invented this and the people who invented coordinate graphing could have gotten together. If only we could teach the kids "over and up" and have it apply to all coordinate grids. But, noooooooo, in latitude and longitude, it's up and over.

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Teach the concept first
Posted by: Danita

Make a visual for the kids...Latitude draw the lines on a sheet of paper, copy it & have the students put the names & addresses on the correct lines: North Pole 90 degrees N; Arctic Circle 66.5 degrees N; Tropic of Cancer 23.5 N; Equater 0 degrees...and so on. You can also make circles and have them fold them in half & draw the lines on them & then put the names & addresses on the Northern hemisphere; then do the Southern hemisphere; you can do the same to teach Eastern & Western Hemispheres with the Prime Meridian being the center line & the International Date line being the edge...showing west of & east of the PM.

Another visual would be the lines of latitude with a ladder (lat - ladder) and then add the names & addresses; for longitude draw the lines, add the PM and then have them right the word Longitude using one of the lines of longitude as the L.

Before you have them do lat/long on a map have them draw an alpha-numeric grid. Practice with it first to get the understanding of locating on a grid & then transfer to lat/long on a map.

A good alpha-numeric grid is a state map;before going onto a world map let them practice locating things around their state using the grid.

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Teaching Latitude and Longitude
Posted by: Schottzie

I taught 6th grade for 26 years and I used a "unique but different" way to get the idea across to my students. It never failed to get the idea across to them! Years later I even had kids come back to visit and remind me of this concept!!
I tell the kids to imagine that they are going travelling to a large city. They are standing on a curb (Equator) in their city with many cars buzzing by. When they were little their mother ALWAYS taught them to always look both ways LEFT and RIGHT BEFORE crossing the street. (This gets them the idea to look across the map first.) So, after they've looked to the left side of the street (map) they identify the latitude number if its closest to that side. As they look to the right side of the street (map) they identify the latitude number if its closest to that side of the map. Most kids get confused as to which number to look for first so this concept gets them used to the idea of looking across (for cars zooming by) first.
After they find the number that goes across the map I stress to them that this first number will ALWAYS have a N if it is North of the Equatoror a S if it is South of the Equator. I ask them am I above the Equator or below the Equator? If they end up with an E or a W after the first number they did it backwards.
The next part of the "travelling adventure" involves after they step off the curb (Equator) to start crossing the very busy street and they have already looked BOTH ways side to side, it is now time to start looking up and down as they move across the street. The reason for this up and down looking is because you are looking up to make sure that no birds are flying low enough over your head to "drop anything" on your head! And you are looking down at your feet to make sure that you are not walking in the same spot that possibly a horse walked in before you did...horses tend to drop where thay want to! Ugh! (The kids absolutely love this part of the story because it involves "messies" on their heads or possibly them stepping in it. They will definitely remember this method! As they are walking the rest of the way across the street, they have to pay VERY CAREFUL attention to the dangers up above their heads (look up for longitude numbers) and the dangers that lurk down by their feet (look down for longitude numbers). It is at this point that I stress to the kids that the second longitude number MUST have an E or a W after it telling me if its East or West of the Prime Meridian.
I go through MANY examples together with the kids on the overhead REPEATING the "LOOK BOTH WAYS ON THE CURB; CHECK FOR BIRD/HORSE DROPPINGS" story. They come to know this short phrase inside and out! I say it over and over for EVERY example. Then I have kids come to the overhead and lead the class through examples using the same LOOK BOTH WAYS;CHECK FOR BIRD/Horse DROPPINGS story. If they reverse the process, tell them that not only will they be laying in the street injured, but they'll either have bird droppings in their hair or horse droppings on their shoes! Not good! They love it! And they remember which way to look first, then second. Give it a try. Let me know how it goes!

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Posted by: KariluvsSS

Lat/Long BINGO for follow-up assessment. Give the students a BINGO card with a list of locations around the world. Have them fill in the board however they choose. Write the coordinates on the board and give a few min for the kids to find it. Discuss as a class. I did this with mine---they LOVED it. Mine worked in partners because I have a lot of special ed and lower level learners. Partners allowed for everyone to participate.

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