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    Teaching Latitude and Longitude
    By Schottzie

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    I taught 6th grade for 26 years and I used a "unique but different" way to get the idea across to my students. It never failed to get the idea across to them! Years later I even had kids come back to visit and remind me of this concept!!
    I tell the kids to imagine that they are going travelling to a large city. They are standing on a curb (Equator) in their city with many cars buzzing by. When they were little their mother ALWAYS taught them to always look both ways LEFT and RIGHT BEFORE crossing the street. (This gets them the idea to look across the map first.) So, after they've looked to the left side of the street (map) they identify the latitude number if its closest to that side. As they look to the right side of the street (map) they identify the latitude number if its closest to that side of the map. Most kids get confused as to which number to look for first so this concept gets them used to the idea of looking across (for cars zooming by) first.
    After they find the number that goes across the map I stress to them that this first number will ALWAYS have a N if it is North of the Equatoror a S if it is South of the Equator. I ask them am I above the Equator or below the Equator? If they end up with an E or a W after the first number they did it backwards.
    The next part of the "travelling adventure" involves after they step off the curb (Equator) to start crossing the very busy street and they have already looked BOTH ways side to side, it is now time to start looking up and down as they move across the street. The reason for this up and down looking is because you are looking up to make sure that no birds are flying low enough over your head to "drop anything" on your head! And you are looking down at your feet to make sure that you are not walking in the same spot that possibly a horse walked in before you did...horses tend to drop where thay want to! Ugh! (The kids absolutely love this part of the story because it involves "messies" on their heads or possibly them stepping in it. They will definitely remember this method! As they are walking the rest of the way across the street, they have to pay VERY CAREFUL attention to the dangers up above their heads (look up for longitude numbers) and the dangers that lurk down by their feet (look down for longitude numbers). It is at this point that I stress to the kids that the second longitude number MUST have an E or a W after it telling me if its East or West of the Prime Meridian.
    I go through MANY examples together with the kids on the overhead REPEATING the "LOOK BOTH WAYS ON THE CURB; CHECK FOR BIRD/HORSE DROPPINGS" story. They come to know this short phrase inside and out! I say it over and over for EVERY example. Then I have kids come to the overhead and lead the class through examples using the same LOOK BOTH WAYS;CHECK FOR BIRD/Horse DROPPINGS story. If they reverse the process, tell them that not only will they be laying in the street injured, but they'll either have bird droppings in their hair or horse droppings on their shoes! Not good! They love it! And they remember which way to look first, then second. Give it a try. Let me know how it goes!

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