ALEX Learning Activity


Human Latitude And Longitude

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Kristi Ware
System:Bessemer City
School:Bessemer City Middle School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2240
Human Latitude And Longitude
Digital Tool/Resource:
Human Latitude And Longitude Worksheet
Web Address – URL:

This activity allows students to describe the world in spatial terms using maps by becoming a part of geography. The students will actually become coordinates on a map that will help them master latitude, longitude, and cardinal directions. 

This activity was created as a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 7
1 ) Describe the world in spatial terms using maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies.

•  Explaining the use of map essentials, including type, projections, scale, legend, distance, direction, grid, and symbols
Examples: type—reference, thematic, planimetric, topographic, globe and map projections, aerial photographs, satellite images

distance—fractional, graphic, and verbal scales

direction—lines of latitude and longitude, cardinal and intermediate directions

•  Identifying geospatial technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
Examples: Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS), geographic information system (GIS), satellite-remote sensing, aerial photography

•  Utilizing maps to explain relationships and environments among people and places, including trade patterns, governmental alliances, and immigration patterns
•  Applying mental maps to answer geographic questions, including how experiences and cultures influence perceptions and decisions
•  Categorizing the geographic organization of people, places, and environments using spatial models
Examples: urban land-use patterns, distribution and linkages of cities, migration patterns, population-density patterns, spread of culture traits, spread of contagious diseases through a population

Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, Geography, Civics and Government
Course Title: Geography
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Demonstrate the use of geographic representations, tools and technologies.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • spatial thinking
  • spatial relationships
  • spatial perspective
  • spatial patterns
  • spatial models
  • geospatial technologies
Students know:
  • Types of maps or geographic resources—reference, thematic, planimetric, topographic, globe and map projections, aerial photographs, satellite images.
  • The difference between aerial photography and satellite images and their properties for interpreting spatial patterns.
  • The uses of GIS in portraying geographic or spatial patterns and in answering geographic questions.
  • The uses of mapping technology to trace diseases through a population geographic trade patterns, governmental alliances, and immigration patterns, mental maps, cultures, urban land-use patterns, distribution and linkages of cities, migration patterns, population-density patterns, spread (diffusion) of culture traits, spread (diffusion) of contagious.
Students are able to:
  • Read, analyze and interpret maps, aerial photography, satellite images, and other types of mapping technology.
  • Use mental maps.
  • Use GPS for locations.
Students understand that:
  • Maps portray human and physical geographic patterns, understand the use of GPS and GIS in explaining geographic patterns, that mental maps are important in understanding cultural perceptions and the organization of cultural landscapes.
Learning Objectives:

The students will be able to:

  • describe the world in spatial terms by locating coordinates on a map using latitude and longitude.
  • identify cardinal directions on a map.


  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

The teacher will create a  giant latitude and longitude grid on the classroom floor.  

To create the latitude and longitude grid on the floor you will need to do the following:

Latitude Lines:

     1)   Cut 9 pieces of yarn about 10-12 feet long (length may need to be adjusted depending on the size of the room)

     2)   Lay the first piece in the center of the room and tape it down(horizontal). This is the Equator and will be labeled 0starting at the Equator, lay the next 4 pieces above and parallel to the first one separating them each by 1ft and tape them down. They will be labeled 20oN, 40oN, 60oN, and 90oN. Do the same below the equator. Spacing the 4 pieces parallel and about 1 ft apart from each other and labeling them 20oS, 40oS, 60oS, and 90oS. 

Longitude Lines:

       1)   Cut 19 pieces of yarn about 8-9 feet long. (length may need to be adjusted depending on the size of the room)

       2)   Lay the first piece in the middle, about 5 ft from the side and tape it down. (on top of the latitude lines). This is the Prime Meridian and will be labeled 0o. Lay the next 9 pieces to the right of the Prime Meridian about ½ ft apart from each other and tape them down. These lines will not be parallel and should have a slight curve to them. They will be labeled 20oE, 40oE, 60oE, 80oE, 100oE, 120oE 140oE, 160oE, and 180oE. Do the same to the Left of the Prime Meridian. Spacing the 9 pieces about ½ ft apart from each other and labeling them 20oW, 40oW, 60oW, 80oW, 100oW, 120oW 140oW, 160oW, and 180oW.

Remember that any of these can be adjusted for the size of the room. I have also included a map to use as a visual aid. 

-The students will then become coordinates on the grid. The teacher can place students at various points and the students will use the Human Latitude And Longitude Worksheet to write coordinates that correspond to where other students are standing.

-The students will also identify other students located at specific coordinates.

-Finally, the students can work together to create their own coordinates and have the other students figure them out. 

Assessment Strategies:

This activity, Human Latitude, and Longitude can be used to measure mastery of using latitude and longitude to identify locations on maps and identifying cardinal directions on maps. 

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher will need to purchase the following items:  300 ft of brightly colored yarn  (hot pink works well) and tape. 

The teacher will need to prepare the room 1 day prior to completing the activity with students:

1) Move the desks/tables to the perimeter or outside of the class.

2) Create your grid on the floor of the classroom. You can find a diagram here.

3) Print out or write the degrees for each line of latitude and longitude and tape them on the grid. 

Variation Tips (optional):

This activity can be done in the classroom or outside in open space. If you want to do this activity outside you can use wooden stakes to secure the yarn. 

Extensions: For lower performing students you can print the map out and have them highlight the lines of latitude and longitude in different colors. Also, have them label the cardinal directions. 

For higher performing students they can actually use the attached map to find the actual places on earth. 

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: cardinal directions, latitude, longitude