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Treasure Map Math

Grade 5: Geometry

Common Core Standard: CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.A.1 “Use a pair of perpendicular number lines, called axes, to define a coordinate system, with the intersection of the lines arranged to coincide with the 0 on each line and a given point in the plane located by using an ordered pair of numbers, called its coordinates.

Understand that the first number indicates how far to travel from the origin in the direction of one axis, and the second number indicates how far to travel in the direction of the second axis, with the convention that the names of the two axes and the coordinates correspond (e.g., x-axis and x-coordinate, y-axis and y-coordinate).”



At the end of the lesson, your students will be confident in plotting points on a coordinate plane. Your students will be able to locate an item, determine its x and y coordinates, and correctly write the ordered pair.

Benefits of Activity

As your students practice locating, reading, and writing x and y coordinates, they will become more confident placing them on a coordinate plane for future activities. An activity such as this will prepare students as they transition to more difficult geometry math lessons using ordered pairs.

Teacher Introduction

Math can be fun! We know that we are teachers, after all. But our students may be less than excited to learn a new math skill or practice a difficult math skill. Coordinate planes are integral for our students to learn, and they will continue to build upon their knowledge as they progress in school. 

We will turn to pirates to drive home what it takes to identify, locate, and plot an ordered pair.

Student Introduction

Ask: Who likes pirates? (Wait for a parade of hands in the air.)

Say: Me too! And today, for math, we will be pirates as we seek the long-lost treasure of Desert Sand Elementary. (Fill in the underlined section with your school name.)


Say: Like any good pirate, to find the treasure; we need a map. (Pass out your map worksheet). Your job is to identify the location of each pirate item on the map. Once you have located all the items and written them down, you can bring your completed map to me. If you have correctly identified your pirate items, you will be given access to the pirate treasure. 

Say/Ask: Let’s complete the first item together. Does everyone see our pirate ship in the top left section of our map?

Say/Ask: Great. Now, let’s determine its x coordinate first. How many spaces to the left is the ship located? (Wait for your students to count nine spaces to the left. If your students are not ready for negative coordinates, you may need to create or find a different treasure map.)

Say/Ask: Yes, the ship is -9 spaces to the left. I’m going to write (-9, under my pirate ship. Now, let’s plot our y coordinate. How many spaces up is our pirate ship?

Say: Yes, our ship is eight spaces up. I’m going to write 8 next to my first number. You should now have the ordered pair (-9,8) under your ship. 

Say: Turn to your table mates and determine the location of the green spyglass. 

Ask: What is the ordered pair of the green spyglass? (Call on a student. The answer is (6,-2).

Say: Great job, continue locating each item, then bring me your treasure map when you finish. 

Teacher Notes: 

  1. Once students turn in their map and you verify their work is correct, you can give them a chocolate coin as their pirate treasure.
  2. The linked worksheet above is an example of a pirate map students can use; you may want to create one that reflects your location or even the famed Pirates of the Caribbean ride/movie. 
  3. Play fun pirate music as background music while your students work. 
  4. You can apply this lesson to many other types of themes. Ideas may include a horse ranch, a city, a house, a park, a theme park, etc.


Provide a secondary treasure map for your students to complete as homework. Or have your students create their own treasure map with specific pirate icons for other students to locate and write the correct x and y coordinates. 

You may assign both activities as creating a treasure map for a classmate will reverse the assignment, ensuring your students know the ins and outs of coordinate planes.

Written by Brooke Lektorich
Education World Contributor
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