Crack the Code

Many elementary students struggle with understand map basics. This engaging hook activity helps students practice using digital maps and reinforces the concept of longitude and latitude.

Divide your students into groups of two or three. Give each group a copy of the Crack the Code clue sheet. Explain that their task is to help track down the city where the "thieves" are heading. Using Google Maps or Google Earth, demonstrate how to use the different features of the tool (zoom in, zoom out, panning, directions, etc).

Not sure yourself? Use these tutorials:

Google Maps

Google Earth

Have students "crack the code" by inserting the longitude and latitude into the map search box. Demonstrate the first clue in a whole group setting. Then let the groups solve the problem by entering the remaining lat / long combinations to get the final answer.

Below you can see and download the student instructions and the answer key. You can also view a short video highlighting some teacher conversation about how they might use this type of activity in their classrooms. Glenn shares his idea of combining Crack the Code with a wonderful picture book titled Outside My Window.


Crack the Code student handout.pdf
Crack the Code answers.pdf