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Kinesthetic Lesson about Latitude and Longitude for Kids

by Susan Kramer

This lesson plan is a hands-on activity to learn about latitude and longitude, and how to remember which is which. Kids of many abilities can benefit by this hands-on lesson.

Age level: Kindergarten and older.

Materials needed: Several firm oranges, a paring knife and cutting board.

Preparation:
Explain to kids that our earth is round like an orange.

Now for the creative imagery - let the stem end and the opposite end, that is usually a dark mark on an orange, be like the north and south pole of the earth.

Explain that latitude stands for the lines that go around the waist of the earth like the equator, moving toward the North or South Pole at equal intervals - the lines going across.

Longitude stands for lines that are all the same length making circles around the globe, with every line going through both the north and south pole - the up and down lines.

Point out that the lines of longitude are closer together near the two poles and further apart when they cross the equator.

Demonstration:

 
Stand an orange, stem side up, on a cutting board on the table with the kids surrounding.

Cut down through the orange from stem to stem, as a line of longitude, not quite cutting all the way through so sections are still joined.

Fold sections back together and now make the same kind of cut from stem to stem, again not cutting through.

Tell kids these are like the lines of longitude on the earth.

Now, using another orange, with stem again at top, cut a small crosswise section off near the stem and continue cutting crosswise sections parallel to level all the way down the orange. Tell kids these are like the lines of latitude on the earth.

If the kids know knife safety, under close supervision they can practice making lines of latitude and longitude with an orange.

Point out to kids that the lines of longitude are all long lines of the same length running pole to pole.

And, lines of latitude are evenly spaced, but of different lengths with the longest line of latitude at the equator.

Summary verse to memorize:

"North to south longitude goes up and down,
And east to west latitude goes 'round and 'round."

While reciting the verse, kids can motion with their hands up and down circles for longitude, and round and round circles for latitude - like stirring a bowl of soup.

Copyright 2000-2013 Susan Kramer

 

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