Lesson Plan: Coordinate Plane

Students in a Classroom
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In this lesson plan, students will define a coordinate system and ordered pairs.


5th Grade


One class period or approximately 60 minutes


  • a large space - gym, preferably, or a multipurpose room, a playground if necessary
  • masking tape
  • marker

Key Vocabulary

Perpendicular, Parallel, Axis, Axes, Coordinate Plane, Point, Intersection, Ordered Pair


Students will create a coordinate plane and will begin to explore the concept of ordered pairs.

Standards Met

5.G.1. Use a pair of perpendicular number lines, called axes, to define a coordinate system, with the intersection of the lines (the origin) arranged to coincide with the 0 on each line and a given point in the plane located by using an ordered pair of numbers, called its coordinates. Understand that the first number indicates how far to travel from the origin in the direction of one axis, and the second number indicates how far to travel in the direction of the second axis, with the convention that the names of the two axes and the coordinates correspond (e.g. x-axis and x-coordinate, y-axis and y-coordinate)

Lesson Introduction

Define the learning target for the students: To define a coordinate plane and ordered pairs. You can tell students that the math they’ll be learning today will help them succeed in middle and high school since they will be using this for many years!

Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. Lay out two crossing pieces of tape. Intersection is the origin.
  2. Line up at the bottom of a line we’ll call the vertical line. Define this as the Y axis, and write it on the tape near the intersection of the two axes. The horizontal line is the X axis. Label this one as well. Tell students they’ll get more practice with these.
  3. Lay out a piece of tape parallel to the vertical line. Where this crosses the X axis, mark the number 1. Lay out another piece of tape parallel to this one, and where it crosses the X axis, label this a 2. You should have pairs of students helping you lay out the tape and do the labeling, as this will help them gain an understanding of the concept of the coordinate plane.
  4. When you get to 9, ask for a few volunteers to take steps along the X axis. “Move to a four on the X axis.” “Step to the 8 on the X axis.” When you’ve done this for awhile, ask students if it would be more interesting if they could move not only along that axis, but also “up”, or over, in the direction of the Y axis. At this point they’ll probably be tired of just going one way, so they will probably agree with you.
  1. Begin to do the same procedure, but laying out pieces of tape parallel to the X axis, and labeling each one as you did in Step #4.
  2. Repeat Step #5 with the students along the Y axis.
  3. Now, combine the two. Tell students that whenever they are moving along these axes, they should always move along the X axis first. So whenever they are asked to move, they should move along the X axis first, then the Y axis.
  4. If there is a blackboard where the new coordinate plane is located, write an ordered pair like (2, 3) on the board. Choose one student to move to the 2, then up three lines to the three. Repeat with different students for the following three ordered pairs:
    • (4, 1)
    • (0, 5)
    • (7, 3)
  5. If time allows, have one or two students silently move along the coordinate plane, over and up, and have the rest of the class define the ordered pair. If they moved over 4 and up 8, what is the ordered pair? (4, 8)


No homework is appropriate for this lesson, as it is an introductory session using a coordinate plane that can’t be moved or reproduced for home use.


As students are practicing stepping to their ordered pairs, take notes on who can do it without help, and who still needs some assistance finding their ordered pairs. Provide additional practice with the whole class until most of them are doing this confidently, and then you can move to paper and pencil work with the coordinate plane.