K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn the x-axis and y-axis on the first quadrant of the Cartesian coordinate system.
  • list the coordinates of a point on the coordinate plane using the form (X,Y).
  • plot a point on the plane when given the coordinates.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 days


Pencil and graph paper

Technology resources

Color monitor with access to the internet for each student


Students should be familiar with integer arithmetic.


These activities can be done individually or in teams of up to four students. Allow for 1-2 hours of class time for the entire lesson.

  1. First, lead a discussion on the number line and the coordinate plane.
  2. Practice the students’ point plotting skills by having them play the Simple Coordinates Game. Click on the Help tab for directions to play the game. The game allows users to figure out and to practice using the coordinate plane for giving the “address” or exact location of particular points.
  3. Have the students practice their graphing skills on graph paper using values they generated or the teacher assigns. Activities such as those found in the book “Grid and Bear It!” are fun for students as the points given when connected form a picture.
  4. Have the students test their skills by playing the Simple Maze Game. Click on the Help tab for directions.


  • Students will be able to write the coordinates for 10 points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane using the form: (X,Y). Rubric for scoring:
    • 9-10 correct = 5pts
    • 7-8 correct = 3pts
    • 6 correct = 1pt
    • less than 6 correct = 0pts.
  • Students will be able to plot 10 points on the first quadrant of the coordinate plane when given the coordinates in the form:(x,y).
    Rubric for scoring:
    • 9-10 correct = 5pts
    • 7-8 correct = 3pts
    • 6 correct = 1pt
    • less than 6 correct = 0pts

Supplemental information


This lesson plan was adapted from resources available on the Shodor.org website. This lesson can be rearranged in several ways.

  • Omit one or the other of the computer activities to reduce the amount of time spent. Add a discussion about fractional movement on the coordinate plane. For students who are ready to handle negative numbers, replace the Coordinates activities with the alternate versions:
  • Suggested Follow-Up: After these discussions and activities, students will be have learned to plot points on the coordinate plane and to read the coordinates off of a graph. The next lesson Functions and Graphs will introduce students to the graphical representation of functions.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 5

        • Geometry
          • 5.G.1Use 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,...
          • 5.G.2Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and use data and simple probability concepts.
    • Objective 4.01: Collect, organize, analyze, and display data (including circle graphs and tables) to solve problems.