Monday, September 24, 2012

Exploring the World

During the last week, we have started our map skills unit in Social Studies. The big question we're trying to answer is, "How are maps, globes, and GPS units important to people?" and the focus of our study is talking about how we find or locate places in the world.

Last year your child should have learned or been introduced to the continents and oceans in third grade. This year we'll specifically be talking about how to describe where those places are in the world, and right now we're on the basics.

Every map, globe or GPS uses a grid system, the lines of latitude and longitude, to identify each place on Earth. To understand this grid system, the kids need to understand where the Equator (0 degrees latitude) and the Prime Meridian (0 degrees longitude) are found on Earth and that they create the four different hemispheres. That is what we have been working the last 3 or 4 days. Tomorrow we will be having a "ticket out the door" to see how well your child is understanding these concepts. If I'm still noticing some areas of need, I will send home a note for you to practice those skills at home while we are reviewing and building upon them here at school.

Here's what you can do to help! Take some time to look at the map below. Ask your kids to show you the following things (you can click on the map to make it larger):

  1.  the line that is the Equator and the line that is the Prime Meridian
  2. the names and locations of the 4 hemispheres
  3. the location of North America, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean (some students are responsible for all 7 continents and 5 oceans - they know who they are!)
  4. Where the hemisphere overlap (for example, which part of the grid is the northern AND eastern hemisphere) or you can point to a continent and ask your child to tell you which hemispheres that continent is located in. Did you know Africa is the only continent in all four hemispheres?
photo credit - (

This is not a huge quiz, test or assessment, and you should not spend time trying to get your child to memorize all of these things tonight. We will constantly be reviewing and adding on these skills so I wanted to give you an update of where we were with our Social Studies unit and give you a fun little activity to do with the kids.

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