Lesson 2: Cardinal Directions

Getting Started

Questions to Explore

  • How do we describe the location of a place?
  • Why is it important to know where places are located?

Facts and Definitions

  • The words we use to describe direction and location on a map are north, south, east, and west.


  • Recognize cardinal directions on a map (SS)
  • Investigate key features of maps (SS)
  • Use geographic terminology when reading and creating maps (SS)
  • Develop new vocabulary by listening to and discussing new words (LA)
  • Select and use new vocabulary and language structures in both speech and writing contexts (LA)
  • Compose a variety of products using the writing process (LA)


  • cardstock
  • construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • tape
  • three or four objects to hide around the yard


Point to the front door. Ask your child to describe the direction of the door and how she would explain to someone how to get to the front door from the middle of the house. Explain that sometimes we use right/left, up/down, or front/back to describe direction. Let her practice giving you directions to the door using the directional words right/left, up/down, and front/back. These directions all depend on which way a person is facing. Ask her if these words will work on a map and why or why not.

Get a small action figure or doll and place it on top of a map. Put the doll facing west on the map, and then tell the doll to walk left. Place the doll facing east and tell it to walk left. Ask your child if the figure ended up in the same place and why it did or did not. Tell her that a map uses the words north, south, east, and west to describe direction.