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Where in the World?
A Lesson in Longitude and Latitude



Social Studies


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Use the country names that match the latitude and longitude points to help you solve the riddle.


Students will

  • identify the difference between latitude and longitude.
  • find on a world map the location identified by a pair of map coordinates.


longitude, latitude, equator, meridian, Prime Meridian, geography, map

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

Write on a board or a sheet of chart paper the terms latitude and longitude. Let students share what they know about the terms. Write down information that students share. Correct any misconceptions they might share.

Explain that the lines of latitude and longitude (see sidebar for tricks to help students remember the difference) comprise an imaginary grid that has been placed over the globe.

  • The lines that run across the grid -- the flat lines -- are lines of latitude. The Equator is an example of a line of latitude. The Equator is the latitude line that divides Earth into two hemispheres, the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. The Equator is the 0 point of latitude. Latitude lines North of the Equator are referred to as North latitude; latitude lines South of the Equator are referred to as South latitude.
  • The lines that run up and down on the grid -- the tall lines -- are lines of longitude. The lines of longitude are also called meridians. The Prime Meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England, is the longitude line that divides Earth into two hemispheres, the eastern hemisphere and the western hemisphere. The Prime Meridian is the 0 point of longitude. Longitude lines East of the Prime Meridian are referred to as East longitude; longitude lines West of the Prime Meridian are referred to as West longitude.

Help students further understand the concepts by giving them some hands-on practice. First, determine the latitude and longitude coordinates for your students city and state.

If you are not sure of the coordinates, you can use this tool, the Latitude and Longitude Finder, to find your local coordinates. Just type in your City, State.

Write the latitude and longitude of your location on a board or chart. Help students use the Equator and Prime Meridian, and the lines of latitude and longitude, to find the location that matches the coordinates given. Students should land on their town!

Next, provide the following coordinates and have students use a map to identify the location that is identified by each set of coordinates:

  • 48 degrees () North latitude, 2 degrees () East longitude (France)
  • 19 degrees () North latitude, 154 degrees () West longitude (Hawaii)
  • 40 degrees () North latitude, 116 degrees () East longitude (China)
  • 12 degrees () South latitude, 77 degrees () West longitude (Peru)
  • 33 degrees () South latitude, 151 degrees () East longitude (Australia)
  • 43 degrees () North latitude, 79 degrees () West longitude (Canada)
  • 20 degrees () South latitude, 50 degrees () East longitude (Madagascar)

When most students seem to grasp the concepts of latitude and longitude, provide the Where in the World? work sheet as longitude and latitude practice. See the Assessment section below for work sheet answers.

Extend the Lesson

  • Create a set of cards, one card per student. On each card write the coordinates of a location someplace in the world. (You might use this list as a source.) Pass a card to each student and have them find and indentify the location on a world map.
  • Create a Coordinate BINGO game. Provide a list of 24 country names around the world for which you have coordinates (source). Have students write the name of each country in a block on their BINGO game card. Then call out the coordinates of one of the 24 countries. Players X the name of the country that matches those coordinates. The first player to get five Xs in a row is the winner.


Assess students based on their understanding of the concepts.
Answers for the Where in the World? work sheet:
Riddle Answer: A ROAD MAP.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins


Latitude & Longitude: Which is Which?

What is the difference between latitude and longitude? Students—and adults—often have difficulty remembering which lines are the flat lines that run across the globe parallel to the equator and which are the lines that run from the North Pole to the South Pole. You might provide a couple "tricks" to help students remember which is which.

  • Use a rhyme to help you remember. Rhymes such as "The flat lines are the lat lines" or "The lines of latitude are lines of flat-itude!" might help students remember which is which.
  • Think of a ladder. A ladder has two long sticks and many rungs that run between those sticks. Think of all the ladders horizontal rungs as lines of latitude (or "ladder-tude").
  • When you say the word "longitude" your mouth opens "tall"/up and down. Lines of longitude are the lines that extend "tall" or up and down.

More Lesson Ideas

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