How to Teach Latitude & Longitude to Grade Four Students

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The lines of longitude and latitude are used to identify locations on the globe. The coordinates associated with latitude are used to find a location on a horizontal line, while the coordinates associated with latitude are used to find a location on a vertical line. When the coordinates of both lines are together, they pinpoint an exact location. A focus of the fourth grade social studies curriculum is latitude and longitude. If you are teaching your students about these important geographical lines, use an engaging activity that will help to instill greater understanding.

  • World map
  • Sidewalk chalk

1 Explain what latitude and longitude mean

Explain what latitude and longitude mean. Tell students that these lines are used to help pinpoint exact locations on the Earth. Explain that the lines of latitude run horizontally along a map and the lines of longitude run vertically. Show students these lines on a map.

2 Explain that the line

Explain that the line of zero latitude is called the equator and that the line of zero longitude is called the prime meridian. Inform them that everything north of the equator is considered the Northern Hemisphere and everything south of the equator is the Southern Hemisphere. Explain that all points to the right of the prime meridian are considered the Eastern Hemisphere and that all points to the left of the prime meridian are considered the Western Hemisphere. Use the map to illustrate this information.

3 Use sidewalk chalk

Use sidewalk chalk to draw lines of latitude and longitude on a concrete surface. On either end of each of the lines, write numbers to label them. Include an equator and a prime meridian.

4 Write letters

Write letters on the lines of longitude and latitude. Choose random locations to write the letters.

5 Print a list

Print a list of questions that relate to the letters you have written on the lines. Examples of questions may include, "What line of latitude is the letter A on?" "What line of longitude is the letter B on?" and "Is the letter C in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere?"

6 Distribute the questions to students

Distribute the questions to students. Instruct them to read the questions and have them refer to the map to answer them. Encourage them to walk on the lines to answer the questions, allowing them to gain a greater understanding of how the lines work. After answering the questions, review the answers as a class.

Lily Mae began freelance writing in 2008. She is a certified elementary and literacy educator who has been working in education since 2003. Mae is also an avid gardener, decorator and craft maker. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education and a Master of Science in literacy education from Long Island University.