Which is farthest from your school: Brazil, Australia, or China? Students can find the answer by using a map or globe, a foot-long piece of string, and a supply of straws as nonstandard units. First, ask students to find the scale of your class map or globe. Then, cut straws into segments equal to this length. Show pairs of children how to thread one straw segment onto the string, then knot the string around it to keep it from falling off. Next, have them thread nine more segments onto the string, knotting the other end. Select two points on the map or globe and show kids how to use their "straw rulers" to measure. Then have them create a chart comparing distances from place to place around the world.
GLOBE FACT: Lines of latitude, or parallels, are measured north or south of the equator.
Time Zone Sticks
Help students visually distinguish between the time zones with a class map and a supply of craft sticks. First, starting at the prime meridian, place 12 craft sticks of the same color vertically at 15-degree increments, heading westward. Then show students where the International Date Line begins (180°), and use 12 craft sticks of a different color to mark the remaining 15-degree increments. Explain that each time zone represents a one-hour difference from the previous zone. When it is morning (a.m.) in the zones designated by one color stick, it may be afternoon or evening (p.m.) in the other zones. To demonstrate, ask students what time it is locally, and what time zone they are in. Then have them add or subtract sticks to find the time and date at that same moment in other parts of the world.
GLOBE FACT: Lines of longitude, or meridians, are measured east or west of the prime meridian (Greenwich, England).
The blocks created by the parallels and meridians on a world map make perfect gameboard "squares" for this game. To prepare, photocopy a world map and mark the meridians, parallels, and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles with bright highlighters. For the spinner, label quadrants of a paper plate with N, S, E, and W. Attach a paper-clip spinner with a brad. Students place their game pieces on a square in Antarctica. Each player spins the spinner and rolls a die to determine the direction and number of spaces to move. (When a player reaches the eastern or western edge of the map, the piece continues by moving to the opposite edge.) A player wins when he or she lands on any square in the Arctic Circle.
GLOBE FACT: The equator is an imaginary line that divides the earth into northern and southern hemispheres.
Tic-tac-toe can't improve students' map-reading skills — but tic-tac-globe can! To play, give a copy of the Tic-Tac-Globe Reproducible (PDF) to each child. Ask the children to cut out the location names at the bottom of the page and glue them randomly, one in each space, on their game cards. To play: Call out the sets of map coordinates (but not the place name). Students figure out the place that corresponds to the coordinates. If the location is on a child's tic-tac-globe sheet, he or she covers that space on the game card. Play continues until a player covers three spaces in a row. As an added challenge, invite the winning student to find the coordinates for his or her locations on a world map.