Lesson Plan

Cardinal Directions

Created By: Suzanne Turner
Grade: 3
Concept: Identification of the Cardinal Directions


Goals and Curriculum Strands. HSSF page 16. "Develop locational skills and understanding. To study geography students must be able to use map and globe skills to determine absolute locations in terms of the map grid, determine directions on the earth's surface; measure distances between places, and interpret information available through the maps's legend, scale of miles, and symbolic representations."


The students will be able to use and identify all 4 cardinal direction when asked where different places or objects are located.

Prerequisite Skills

Adaptation for LEP Students

With the use of a transparency depicting the school plant map on the overhead projector, and identical photocopied maps for all students a full discussion will follow defining what cardinal directions are. The LEP learner as well as the Standard English learner will be able to use this visual aid to familiarize themselves with the school layout.


Refresher work sheet, Overhead projector, transparency of school plant map, 30 photocopies of map on transparency, colored pencils, large clear compass to be used on overhead.


A. Introduction

We have already studied about cardinal directions. I have a quick worksheet for us to do together then we have something very important to learn. There has been a change made in our classroom evacuation plan for fire and disaster drills. The principle has informed me that we no longer go to the Kindergarten yard. We are to report to the open area on the north side of the school. Does anyone know where the north side of our school is? [Class Discussion] Well today we are going to learn where the North, South, East and West sides of our school are. We will do this so we can evacuate our classroom and get to our new location on the North side of the school in our 5 minute time limit.

B. Development

  1. Place map transparency onto overhead projector and turn it on. Students we are now looking a map of our school. Can you tell me what you see? [Have a brief class discussion]
  2. Hand out the individual maps to all the- students and allow them to become familiar with them. Then ask, "Can anyone find room 18 on their map, be sure to raise your hands, don't talk out of turn." [Call one student up to show others. Have him/her put a dot at room 18 on the transparency with colored pen]. Have the students use a colored pencil to mark their copy of the map, Check to see if all are correct.
  3. Placing the clear compass onto the transparency next to the direction icon. Show the students where North is on the compass and have them mark their map's direction icon with an N [tell them to be careful and make sure that theirs looks like the one on the overhead, go slowly]. Check work and repeat process with South, East, and West. Check maps. Everyone point to the N on the direction icon and run their finger up the map towards the top. Have them put a dot on the map indicating the North side of the school.
  4. Now that the students' maps are marked with the 4 cardinal directions have the students work in partners for 3-4 minutes to determine the fastest and easiest way from room 18 to the North side of the school. One at a time have 1 student from each pair come up to the projector and with a colored pen to draw their route. [Class consensus on best route].
  5. Have all students mark in black the chosen route, with their maps in hand have the students walk their route to see if they can make it to the North side of school in the proper amount of time. Remind the students that they must act as if it where a real evacuation and do it quietly, quickly, and safely. Return to class and have them discuss their results.


Class, what did we learn today? [Class Discussion] That's correct, we learned the 4 cardinal directions and in doing that we also learned where the North side of our school is and the safest way for us to evacuate this classroom ln case of an emergency.


  1. Mapping project using the 4 cardinal directions. This mapping project can be done in conjunction with a language arts project such as creating their own fantasy city/world or a story about a hidden treasure. In either case the students can create a map to the respective locations using the 4 cardinal directions.
  2. Use of cardinal directions when having students obtain objects from within the classroom. [e.g., please go to the North of the room and pick up the journals for the class and distribute them to their authors].

Evaluation of Students Learning

The students will be evaluated on their ability to recognize and show, upon request, the 4 cardinal directions.

Self-evaluation of Lesson

The amount of knowledge that is shown by the students during class discussion and when following their maps once they have determined the 4 cardinal directions on said map. In observing the students' knowledge, ability to recognize, and to show the 4 cardinal directions I will be able to determine if this lesson worked properly or needs to have revisions so that a greater number of students reach my desired objective. I will also be able to tell at this point if any other adjustments need be made to enhance the learning experience.