Where in the World am I?
by Cheryl Blumenbaum


Task: Students will understand and be able to use the geographic term, location, including relative location and absolute location.

Guiding Question: When you’re standing outside, have you ever wondered where you are exactly on the earth? Did you have wonder if the spot where you’re standing has a name or identity?

Multiple Intelligences -- kinesthetic, visual, interpersonal

Specific Standards:
Geography III - People, Places & Environment
The learner can use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as atlases, data bases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

Geography: The World in Spatial Terms
How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.

Geography Theme 1: LOCATION

Every point on Earth has a specific location that is determined by an imaginary grid of lines denoting latitude and longitude. Parallels of latitude measure distances north and south of the line called the Equator. Meridians of longitude measure distances east and west of the line called the Prime Meridian. Geographers use latitude and longitude to pinpoint a place’s absolute, or exact, location.
To know the absolute location of a place is only part of the story. It is also important to know how that place is related to other places—in other words, to know that place’s relative location. Relative location deals with the interaction that occurs between and among places. It refers to the many ways—by land, by water, even by technology—that places are connected.

Materials including technology:
Maps of Rhode Island, USA, World
Computer with access to the internet

Process: This will take 2 days.
1. Review the guiding question. When you’re standing outside, have you ever wondered where you are exactly on the earth? Did you have wonder if the spot where you’re standing has a name or identity? Get students’ responses and write them on a chart.
2. Review compass on a map and the initials N, S. E. W.
3. Have students visit Mapquest.com, type in a map request and notice the latitude and longitude markings. Also, discuss a certain place in terms of what it’s north of, south of, east of or west of.

4. Use a soft globe (beach ball type). Toss the beach ball to a child who choose one thumb to mark a “place”. Have the child describe where the place is using longitude and latitude markings. Make sure students understand that this is called absolute place as described in Standards section above. Also have the student describe the place using north of______ south of_______ east of _____ of west of_______. Make sure children understand this as relative place as described above.
5. The child then tosses the ball to another child. Repeat the process a few times.
6. Next day -- pass out maps of Rhode Island to teams of 3. Call out a name of a place. The students will find the place and be ready to describe its location using the guides in #3 above. Repeat the process a few times.
7. This same activity may be used for larger maps of USA or World.

Students will be given a piece of a map and asked to identify where a certain place is on the map. They will be asked to write both the absolute place and the relative place.