Digital Skills: Developing Online Assessment Skills in Everyday Classroom Activities Western Reserve Public Media
Absolute Location
Students will work with latitude and longitude to identify absolute locations. Several of the resources provided allow students to manipulate the map, which will be useful when students must manipulate simulations for state testing.
I can:

Use latitude and longitude to identify an absolute location.

Note: Simulations in this lesson require the use of Adobe Flash Player so teachers & students must use Firefox or Internet Explorer to access these simulations.

Tech Skills:
  • simulations

Materials and Resources:
Grade Level:
  • 6th Grade
Subject Area:
  • Social Studies


Activity 1

  1. Introduce latitude and longitude with an interest catching video, such as this one.

  2. Using a globe (and student globes if you have them available) or a digital projection, review with students the location of the equator and prime meridian.

    Remind students that lines of latitude run parallel to the equator and provide lines of measurement north and south of the equator.

    Remind students that lines of longitude measure distance east and west of the prime meridian.

  3. Provide students with the following resources that will allow them to drag a simulation of lines of latitude and longitude separately to view how they appear on a globe and on a flat map. These simulations require Flash so you must use Firefox or Internet Explorer (not Chrome). Note that these are supplemental resources provided in the simulation you will use in activity two.

    Latitude simulation

    Longitude simulation

  4. Provide students with a printed world map found here.

  5. Depending on your students’ needs, spend one to three class periods letting students familiarize themselves with latitude vs longitude. 

    For example, students can identify the lines of latitude and longitude that run through certain areas, such as North America or Europe.

    Break students into pairs and provide them with a list of locations, such as countries or bodies of water. Ask the students to identify the latitude and/or longitude.

    Though students in sixth-grade should be familiar with longitude and latitude from fifth grade, it may be worthwhile to let students work with finding each separately until students are comfortable.

  6. For added practice, students can work with a smaller map, such as this US map, and continue to identify longitude and latitude of places in the US.


Activity 2

  1. Introduce students to the concept of using a grid system of latitude and longitude coordinates to find absolute location with a video, such as this one.

    Note that this video, as with many absolute location resources, reviews the difference between relative and absolute location. Students should be familiar with the term relative location from their work in fourth and fifth grade.

  2. Review with students the proper way to label absolute location with latitude then longitude.

  3. Provide students with the following website (requires Flash so use Firefox or Internet Explorer). The website will allow students to manipulate lines of longitude and latitude to locate an absolute location on a map. Students can try several examples. 

  4. Next, have students practice choosing cities at given locations in this map activity (requires Flash). Students are given coordinates and must choose the correct dot representing a city.



Practice Activity

  1. Finally, have students practice writing absolute locations using Nasa’s longitude and latitude finder. Alternatively, this resource is similar. The resources have a world map.  It may need to be dragged to the correct area of the world you need, such as the U.S.  Students can zoom in as close as street level. When students click on a spot, it will give the absolute location below the map.  Students can also input an address and it will provide the coordinates.

    Students can zoom in and find their own city or town, or even their own street. The map also has businesses and schools. 

    Have students record the absolute location of local landmarks and businesses.


Geography Strand, Content Statement 4

Latitude and longitude can be used to identify absolute location.


Supplementary Resources:

US Latitude and Longitude Map

If you have a Brainpop subscription, you can use these resources.

Printable Scholastic Game

Pirate Online Game

Follow Us on Facebook Facebook | Twitter Twitter | YouTube YouTube | E-Newsletters E-Newsletters | | Digital Skills Credits | Digital Skills Home | Be More PBS

Western Reserve Public Media® • P.O. Box 5191; 1750 Campus Center Drive; Kent, OH 44240-5191 • 330-677-4549 or 1-800-554-4549

Copyright©Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.