Main Core Tie
Social Studies - 1st Grade
Students will play a variety of games and activities to understand Cardinal directions.
Background for Teachers
Cardinal directions are a challenge for many first graders to learn,
understand, and use. Prior to this lesson, you will want to have
exposed your students to using directions in every day life. Discuss
things like using their right hand to say the pledge, or discuss which
side of the hall they are walking down. Also, familiarize them with the
surroundings outside such as the mountains, lakes or rivers that may
be close by. Use the terms east, west, north, and south as you describe
them to the students.
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
Invitation to Learn
The students will play a direction game. Take the class to an
open area such as the gym or lunchroom. Lay out soft, foam balls
across the floor. Explain to the class that their job will be to try and
hit another student with a ball. Once students are hit, they are out.
Let students explore and play the game. As they do, point out that
the balls don't hurt. After they have played for five to six minutes,
blindfold half of the class and have them play the game, while the
other half of the class listens and watches silently. Let them play for
about 2-3 minutes. Next, pair up the other half of the class and have
them stand by their partner and give them directions such as, "move
to your right, go down, pick it up, throw" etc. Afterward, have the
students discuss with you which way was easier and why it was
- Ask students to remember a time they got lost. Have them share
what helped them to find their way.
- Discuss how maps help us find our way to places and the
importance of knowing how to use maps. Compare using a map
to the time they played the game and had someone to tell them
where to go.
- Show a map to the class and point out features of it: mountains,
lakes, states, (if using a US map) cities, compass rose, and
- Introduce the words: north, south, east, west and place them on
the board. Ask the students to share where they have seen and
used these words before. Take time to discuss these with the
class. Explain that we need to know where these directions are
in order to be able to use them.
- Place direction signs in your room, according to where they
- Explain to your students that you are going to play a game that
will help them learn north, south, east, and west.
- Play 4 Corners using the directions north, south, east, west. Pick
one student to be "it." They go up to the front of the room,
close their eyes, and count to 10. While they count, the other
students move to one of the direction corners and stay there.
With their eyes closed, the person that is "it" picks a corner using the words north, south, east or west, and whoever is in it,
is out. Continue play until only one student is left. Management
tips -- have them practice silent cheering and silent getting out.
- Bring students back and have them share what helped them to
remember which direction was which.
- Introduce "Where Are the Animals?" game to students. Show
them the Farm worksheet and point out certain features such
as, the barn, fence, haystacks, etc. Also, point out the directions
north, south, east, west, and practice using them. For example
ask them, "Is the hay stack east or west of the barn?"
- Explain that you have five animals that you will hide on the
Farm worksheet. Place the five animals from your Animals
worksheet on the Farm worksheet, without the class seeing it.
- Give each student the Farm worksheet and 30 counters that are
2 different colors, 15 of each color, that they can place on the
Farm worksheet. Have students guess where the animals are
hiding by using language such as, "Is it east of the hay stack one
space?" Then students should mark their map with counters.
One color is used if there is an animal, and the other color is
used if there isn't an animal. Make sure to model this process
using the board or overhead prior to beginning this game.
- After they have played it as a class a few times, and you feel
they understand it, have them pair off and play the game with
a partner. As they do so, walk around and assist as needed.
Remind them to look at the compass on their map to assure
they are saying the right directions.
- High students -- introduce the terms northeast, northwest,
southeast, southwest to them have them play the game using
those clues to move diagonally on the chart.
- Low students -- first work with cues such as right, left, up, or
down making sure to point on the compass with direction they
are moving. With time, help them to move on to using the
- Have students observe what is north, south, east and west of
their house and then draw a picture of it. When they bring
it back to class, let them share their map with the class and
explain it, using the direction names.
- Play the "Where Are the Animals?" game at home.
- Give students an unfinished map of your classroom. Have them
draw in the objects that are missing using clues such as "draw
a desk east of the bookshelf" or other clues, according to how
your classroom is set up.
- Go on a walk outside. Align the students with north, east,
south, and west. Ask them which direction the playground,
school, mountains, etc are. Take notes of their use of the
directions and those students that may need more work.
- Place any of the above student work in students' portfolios.
Guastello, E.F., Beasley, T.M. & Sinatra, R.C. (2000). Concept mapping effect on science
content comprehension of low-achieving inner-city seventh graders. ERIC. Retrieved
November 28, 2006, from http://www.eric.ed.gov
In this article, the authors describe the results from a study that
was done with seventh grade science students. One class was taught
using direct teacher instruction and another class was taught using
concept mapping to connect the subject matter taught. The end result
was that the students in the concept mapping class did much better
than the class that received direct teacher instruction.
Gibbs, H.J. (2004). Student portfolios: documenting success. Academic Research Premier.
Retrieved November 28, 2006.
By reading this, we find that students and teachers both benefit
from using portfolios in the classroom as a method of assessment. By
using portfolios, we can learn more about a student's comprehension of
the topic and their performance on their assignments over a period of time.