Teaching and Learning the Virginia K-3 History and Social Sciences Standards of Learning



3.5 The student will develop map skills by
  e) locating specific places using a simple letter-number grid system.


  • Locate and plot locations on the world grid.
  • Make a map skills notebook and include a world map with seven continents and four oceans labeled and define terms such as legend/key, title, scale, hemisphere, equator, and prime meridian. Include a grid map, map of the United States, and map of Virginia.
  • Discuss fractional parts or Ĺ and ľ when dividing the world into hemispheres.
  • Introduce the students to the letter (left) and number (bottom) coordinates of a grid system and how they identify the exact location of a place or item.
  • Construct with the students a simple letter (left) and number (bottom) coordinates grid on the board or on an overhead.
  • Draw small, simple-shaped objects on the grid and show students how the grid can be used to locate areas on the object.
  • Have students come up to the board and describe the location of points on the grid using the letter (left) and number (bottom) coordinates.
  • Make a life-size (class-size) grid.
  • Seat students with their chairs in a rectangular array. Pass out a card to each student within a row. Have one row be all As, one row be all Bs, one row be all Cs, one row be all Ds, until all the rows are labeled. Then, give each student in the row a number card starting with 1 until each student in the row has a letter and a number. Explain to the students how they can move from chair to chair on the class grid. Select one student to move throughout the grid and have the class give the location in terms of letter (left) and number (bottom) coordinates. The traveling studentís path can be tracked on the letter (left) and number (bottom) coordinates of the grid system.
  • Pass out class maps to teams of two or three students. Allow the students time to explore the maps and find places they know. Be sure to point out the compass rose and orient the students to the four cardinal directions on the map. If they are using a local map, see whether they can find where they live. Ask the students to find the gridlines and the labels at the top, bottom, and sides of the map. Demonstrate how to follow the gridlines to a certain location.


The National Geographic Web site provides information and copies of maps.

This is the Web site for the Virginia Geographic Alliance.

Benís Guide provides information on locating North America on a globe.

Here are lessons for map making.

All of these Web sites contain maps for viewing.


Map Skills: Locating specific places on a simple letter-number grid system

National Geographic.
National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers. National Geographic Society School Publishing, 1998.
This atlas provides maps and references for all continents.