Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Traveling to Japan: Which Way Do We Go?

Christy Williamson
Bay District Schools


Students determine -Which way do we go?- and explore various methods for measuring the distance between Florida and Japan.


The student writes notes, comments, and observations that reflect comprehension of fourth grade or higher level content and experiences from a variety of media.

The student knows measurement concepts and can use oral and written language to communicate them.

The student uses a wide variety of models (for example, manipulatives, diagrams) and applies counting procedures to investigate measurements of length, area, volume, and perimeter.

The student solves real-world problems involving measurement of the following: length (for example, millimeter, quarter-inch, foot, yard, meter); weight (for example, pounds, ounces, kilograms, grams); capacity (for example, cup, milliliters); temperature (Farenheit and Celsius); angles (right and straight).

The student selects an appropriate measurement unit for labeling the solution to real-world problems.


-World maps
-Globes (1 per 3 students)
-Calculators (optional)


1. Gather materials

2. Prepare materials for demonstration (globe, string, ruler, calculator)


1. Using world maps, review the locations of Japan and Florida. Ask students, -If we were to travel to Japan, which way would we go?- Encourage discussion about the various travel routes between Florida and Japan.

2. Ask, -How can we figure out the distance between Florida's capital and Japan's capital?-

3. List students' ideas on the board. Brainstorm a variety of possible solutions (scales on world maps, researched information, Internet travel guides, etc.)

4. Explain that globes can also be used to determine travel distances. Review the location of Florida's capital and Japan's capital on the globe.

5. Ask again, -Which way should we go?- Lead students to discover that they should travel the shortest distance between the two capitals.

6. Explain that when using globes for measurement purposes, one must find and use -the great circle route: the shortest distance between any two points on the earth.-

7. Model for students how to use a string to measure and mark the distance between two points on a globe. (Choose two points other than the capitals of Florida and Japan.)

8. Explain that for each inch marked on their string, they have traveled 660 miles. Write the conversion scale on the board for future reference.

9. Have the students help convert the inches to miles. Take time to review estimating and converting increments between inches as well (half inch, quarter inch, eighth inch). NOTE: If a calculator will be used, students may also need to know how to represent incremental measurements (half inch, quarter inch, eighth inch) as decimals before computing the mileage traveled.

10. Point out that the final answer must include the correct label (miles, not inches.)

11. Tell students that they will now measure the distance between Florida's capital and Japan's capital in two different ways--global measurement and their choice of one other way from the previously brainstormed list. NOTE: Inform students that they may also use the string as a measuring device on the two-dimensional world map.

12. Students follow the previous model, and use pieces of string to measure the distance from Florida's capital to Japan's capital on the globe or on the world map.

13. Students mark the string to show the distance between the two points.

14. Students use a ruler to measure the distance between the two markings on the string in order to determine the number of miles traveled (1 inch = 660 miles).

15. On paper, students record the measurement in inches as well as the mileage calculation.

16. Students tape the string to the paper, and write the steps they took in solving the problem.

17. Students should repeat steps 12-16 for the second string measurement, or use another method previously brainstormed to determine the distance.

18. The students write the steps they took to solve the problem a second time. (The first solution can be written on the front of the paper and the second one on the back.)

19. Students compare and contrast the two solutions, and write a sentence or two about what they observed from these measurement experiences (possible solutions are given for discrepancies or questions raised about differences, etc).


Formative Assessments

1. The teacher uses the strings attached to the students' papers to remeasure and check the mileage calculations and labels. (Be sure to also verify any measurements gathered from researched sources.)

2. The teacher reads the students' procedures for each measurement. Students' writing should reflect comprehension of measurement concepts and the steps they used to solve this real-world problem.
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