Map Coordinate Bingo

By Betty Watt

Grade Level 4-6  

Summary of Activity

Students begin by observing and discussing reasons for lines on a map to find locations. Demonstrate with a balloon which has X's marked on it but no locator lines to find particular X's. Read the lesson on latitude and longitude. Students make bingo cards with the names of 25 cities of the western hemisphere on each. Read the latitude and longitude of each as students find the name of the city on a map and mark their cards. Proceed as in a regular bingo game. This may also be used with Nebraska cities and Nebraska road maps.  

Background Information

  • Orienteering - a sport similar to a treasure hunt that uses maps
  • Orientation - the location of directions on a map
  • Parallels - lines across a map that are parallel to or run in the same direction as the Equator
  • Lines of Latitude - parallels; lines that show distance north or south of the Equator
  • Hemispheres - equal halves of the earth
  • Lines of Longitude - vertical lines on a map which run in a north-south direction
  • Meridians - a line of longitude; any of the north-south lines shown on a map
  • Prime Meridian - the meridian of 0; the line made by the Prime Meridian and the 180o meridian divides the earth. The half of the earth lying west of the Prime Meridian is called the Western Hemisphere. The half of the earth east of the Prime Meridian is called the Eastern Hemisphere.
  • Geographic Coordinates - the numbers in the geographic grid system; the numbers that give the latitude and longitude of a place
  • Map Key - map legend, contains all symbols used on a map and tells what they stand for.  


  • large balloon
  • permanent marker
  • list of cities in the western hemisphere (or Nebraska) list of those cities coordinates
  • poster board for making bingo cards
  • pencils, markers, bingo markers
  • map of western hemisphere (or Nebraska)
  • rulers

Learning Objectives

  1. The learners will use latitude and longitude to find location on a map.
  2. The learner will explain the use of orientation on a map.
  3. The learner will become familiar with names of cities in the western hemisphere (or Nebraska).

Activity Preparation

Gather materials, read pages 4-8 in social studies book "Using Latitude and Longitude", review vocabulary, cut bingo cards and possibly draw in lines (or show an example of a pre-made card.

Teaching Sequence

  1. Blow up a large balloon in front of the class. Use a magic marker to mark on the balloon a number of small X's/
  2. Ask the students to tell the location of a particular X on the balloon. Students will find this difficult, for there are few ways to relate the X's to anything else.
  3. Ask students what might make it easier to locate a particular X. Lead students to conclude that lines on the balloon would help locate the X.
  4. Distribute cards, markers, pencils, rulers, lists of cities.
  5. Have students make a 5 space by 5 space grid on their bingo cards and print 25 of the names of cities on them, one in each space. You may wish to assign random parts of the list so that all the cards do not contain the first 25 cities on the list. When the cards are finished, your students will be ready to play Bingo!
  6. Distribute bingo markers and maps. Read the latitude and longitude for one of the cities. Each student should find the name of the city on a map by using coordinates and mark the card if the city is there.
  7. Proceed like a regular bingo game.  

Possible Extensions

Use Nebraska cities and coordinates and play the game with fourth or fifth graders. It could also be used with U.S cities or state capitals. Label hemispheres on world maps. Use graphing skills to make pictures on grids using coordinates.

Additional Resources

  • Western Hemisphere, 1995, Silver-Burdett-Ginn, Morristown, NJ
  • Grid and Graph It, by Will C. Howell