Friday, July 15, 2016

Teaching and Learning: Coordinate Grids at Fifth Grade

Students truly enjoy learning and applying all information related to coordinate grids.

I like to introduce some of the fifth grade coordinate grid concepts and skills early in the year so that we can apply those skills to most units throughout the year. Plus it's the kind of skill that's highly accessible to most math learners making it a positive start-of-the-year unit, one where all students are able to work together with confidence and engagement.

Lesson Introduction: Whet Their Appetite, Make it Meaningful
We'll take a look at the aerial photo of the playground. It's easy to find an aerial view photo of your school playground and this immediately makes the lesson interesting to students.

Say, can anyone locate the "back swing set." Hands will raise quickly. Students describe where it is. They say things such as "in the back," "next to the trees," and "far from the building."  I write their words down, and underline the location words such as next to, far from, and in the back.

After that I'll explain that mathematicians aren't satisfied with vague descriptors like next to, far from, and in the the back since they typically want to be as specific, precise, and exact as possible. Math brings order and organization to our world, and that helps us to see accurate patternsdetermine relationships, present facts and figures in meaningful, explicit ways, and solve problems.

I'll then explain that one way to order or organize a map is to overlay the map with a coordinate grid. Then I'll show the coordinate grid map overlay and explain how using the grid provides us a more accurate, specific, and exact way to discuss a map.

Learning Experience

Pass out the grid map to all and we'll identify the vocabulary.
Link for Handout

Complete the worksheet. Then graph a few significant coordinates or ordered pairs on the school map. After that practice making a picture(s) with ordered pairs. This is one free resource for practice pages. A quick Internet search will identify many more.

Finally, at the end of the lesson, review the vocabulary with this catchy Flocabulary rap.

Provide Opportunities for Review and Study for Homework
Encourage students to sing the Flocabulary rap for homework. Also ask them to practice drawing a number of pictures using ordered pairs and practice the concepts using Khan Academy.


  • Have students create their own treasure hunt maps with coordinate pair clues to find the treasures in real time or on a digital or hard copy map.
  • Have students create the coordinates for a wonderful ordered pair picture. Make sure they test the picture, then make copies of the ordered pair path for the class to use as they create the picture.
  • Have students write real world problems like the ones they've completed on Khan Academy and then solve those problems using coordinate grids. 

Coordinate Grid Learning Standards:

CCSS Standards Language Used in This Lesson and Others
  • 5.G.A.1 Use a pair of perpendicular number lines, called axes, to define a coordinate system, with the intersection of the lines (the origin) 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)
  • 5.G.A.2 Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.

CCSS Standard Included in Khan Academy Review and Later Lessons
  • 5.OA.B.3 Generate two numerical patterns using two given rules. Identify apparent relationships between corresponding terms. Form ordered pairs consisting of corresponding terms from the two patterns, and graph the ordered pairs on a coordinate plane. For example, given the rule “Add 3” and the starting number 0, and given the rule “Add 6” and the starting number 0, generate terms in the resulting sequences, and observe that the terms in one sequence are twice the corresponding terms in the other sequence. Explain informally why this is so.

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