Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Latitude and Longitude: Geography and Geometry!

Anne Roundtree


This lesson integrates areas of geometry and geography. The students will learn to pinpoint locations on maps and charts using latitude and longitude coordinates.


The student knows how regions are constructed according to physical criteria and human criteria.

The student knows how to identify, locate, and plot ordered pairs of whole numbers on a graph or on the first quadrant of a coordinate system.


-Examples of early maps
-Modern maps
-Navigational charts
-Internet mapping or locator links

Books to have available for student reference:
-Stienecker, David L. [Discovering Geography, Maps.] New York: Benchmark Books, New York, 1998.
-Bramwell. [Mapping the Sea and Airways.] Minneapolis: Martyn Lerner Publications Co., 1998.
-Weiss, Harvey. [Maps: Getting Here to There.] Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.
-Haslam, Andrew. [Make It Work! Maps.] Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1996.

-Handouts from Internet Site #1- The Mariners' Museum: Introduction to Latitude and Longitude, Activity Ten, and Latitude and Longitude Activity Sheet (See Weblinks.)
-Handouts from Internet Site #2- Putting It All Together: The Latitude and Longitude Story and Where's Home? (See Weblinks.)
-Teacher-made Latitude and Longitude Coordinates/City Name activity sheet (See Preparation.)


1. (Optional) Contact the administration about permission for the field trip. Once that is obtained contact the museum at (561)692-1234 to set up a date. Make permission slips to be sent home and to be returned.
2. Print handouts from the Maritime Museum, the Putting It All Together story, and the teacher-made activities.
3. Obtain world maps and hurricane tracking charts for all students.
4. Complete the Activating and Gaining Knowledge sections on day one. Complete Using Knowledge on day two. Personalizing Knowledge will happen on day three. The one-page paper can be done for homework.


This lesson will follow and reinforce geometry lessons on coordinate graphing.

Activate Knowledge:
1. As a class, students participate in brainstorming about their ideas on the principles of latitude and longitude. Create a class KWL chart of the ideas suggested.

2. Give a brief history of cartography and navigation. The students will be introduced to some examples of early maps, navigational charts, and modern maps, including Internet technology.

3. Introduce the principles of latitude and longitude, including the the Prime Meridian, the equator, and hemisphere.

4. Explain about the degree coordinates used in mapping, and how degrees are further reduced to minutes and seconds to obtain greater accuracy in location. The procedure of using latitude and longitudinal coordinates to locate a position on the map will be related back to preceding coordinate geometry lessons.

Gaining Knowledge:
5. Each student will be given the Mariner's Museum: Introduction to Latitude and Longitude handout and a world map. As a class, review the brief handout and talk about the vocabulary presented, finding the locations of the equator, the Prime Meridian, the International Date Line, the poles, and the coordinates of a few major cities on the world map.

Using Knowledge:
6. Students will complete Activity Ten of the Mariner's Museum handout, giving the latitude and longitude coordinates of the objects on the answer sheet provided. Students are also required to provide the location of the objects by finding those coordinates on a world map and including that information on their answer sheets.

7. A teacher-made handout will be given requiring students to provide coordinates in latitude and longitude degrees and minutes for major world cities listed. The handout will inversely require students to locate cities when given the cordinate positions. The student will use maps to obtain coordinates and city information.

Personalizing Knowledge:
8. Students will complete the KWL chart about what they have learned about latitude and longitude. Ask students why understanding longitude and latitude is important.

9. The students will be required to turn in a one-page paper on relating geography and geometry.

10. Assess the activity. (See Assessment.)


1. Assessment will be made using direct observation of student participation in assignments and discussions.
2. Assessment will be further measured in the completion of core activities related to completing the activity sheets provided.
3. The Personalizing Knowledge paper is a way to have the students reflect on their experience and to gauge the effectiveness of the lesson. Students should be able to explain the reasoning behind latitude and longitude.


1. For extra credit students may use the handouts Latitude and Longitude Story: Putting It All Together and Where's Home? to locate their own homes and its coordinates on an Internet mapping website. This may be done at home or on the classroom computer during free or center time. This may also be done in groups.
2. Hurricane tracking charts will be given to students. The student may explain the chart to a parent. A handout will be included for parents to sign for extra credit.
Personalizing Knowledge:
3. If possible the lesson will culminate in a field trip to The Maritime and Yachting Museum in Stuart, Florida, or other maritime museum depending on the availability in your area. While there, the children will be able to see practical applications of the latitude and longitude coordinate system. They will be able to learn about various navigational devices and how people who work on the water use modern navigational equipment to pinpoint their location on a map, as well as reefs, buoys, fishing spots, etc.
If no maritime museum is located within reasonable distance or it is not possible to arrange a field trip, students and teacher can assemble a maritime museum by assembling books, artifacts, and student products in the classroom.

Web Links

Web supplement for Latitude & Longitude - Geography and Geometry!
The Mariners' Museum - Newport News, Virginia

Web supplement for Latitude & Longitude - Geography and Geometry!
Latitude and Longitude - Putting it all Together

Attached Files

The Latitude and Longitude Coordinate activity sheet and Answer Key.     File Extension: pdf

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