Which Direction? Latitude and Longitude

Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Subject Area

English Language Arts
Social Studies




This activity uses YouTube as its digital resource. "Longitude and Latitude Meaning Definition for Kids" is a video that explains the definitions of latitude and longitude. The students will also engage in a Quick Write about the video relating to our essential question, What do the geographical terms latitude and longitude mean? Afterward, the students will participate in a hands-on activity.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit.


Social Studies (2010) Grade(s): 2


Differentiate between a physical map and a political map.



  • differentiate
  • geographical features
  • physical map
  • political map
  • geography
  • latitude
  • longitude
  • border


Students know:
  • The difference between political and physical maps and the information that can be gained from each.


Students are able to:
  • Select the most appropriate map type to gather needed information.


Students understand that:
  • There are differences between a physical map and a political map and the appropriate uses of each.

Learning Objectives

-Students will be able to define and use the geographical terms latitude, equator, and longitude.

-Students will be able to label latitude and longitude on a model of the world.

-Students will gather information from the provided video to answer the essential question.

Activity Details

Introduce the essential question, "What are the geographical definitions of latitude, longitude, and equator?"

Show the video.

After viewing the video, ask the students to participate in a Quick Write in their Reflection Journal answering the essential question. Give the students 3 minutes and allow sharing time.

The teacher should define the terms by stating latitude are imaginary lines that run east to west (lat lays flat) and longitude are imaginary lines that run north to south (long is ready to launch). The equator is an imaginary line that runs parallel to the poles in the center of our world. Tell the students we use these geographical terms to find specific locations in our world.

Next, the teacher can model these imaginary lines by using an orange (fruit). With a black marker show the students by drawing lines horizontally on the orange. Explain these lines represent the latitude lines. Next, with your green marker draw one horizontal line around the middle or center of the orange. Explain that this is the equator. Now peel the orange and draw the students' attention to the seams between each orange slice that run vertically. Explain that these lines represent the longitude lines.  

Pass out the paper plates and have students draw these lines on the plate using the different color markers (Longitude-black, Latitude- red, and equator- green). Students should also label these lines. In closing the students can practice naming each labeled part.

Assessment Strategies

The teacher can asses by using teacher observation, check of reflection journals where they are asked to answer the essential question, and by evaluating the finished project that is labeled. The teacher will check the journal and the labeled paper plate to ensure students were able to use the terms latitude and longitude correctly. When checking the journal, the teacher should also be sure students used the information gathered from the video to answer the essential question correctly. 

Variation Tips

The teacher could give each student an orange (fruit) for the hands-on activity instead of using paper plates.

Write the vocabulary words on the board or add to a word wall during the lesson as a reference for the students.

Background / Preparation

Interactive whiteboard with the video link ready for presentation (internet and sound capabilities required)


Paper plates (for each student)

Red, black, and green markers or crayons (for each student)

Vocabulary words written on strips for word wall