Which way do we go?

How do we know where we’re going? We’d probably end up in Timbuktu if we didn’t know.

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Room 12 have been investigating directions. How do we give directions? How do we understand directions? Why do we even need directions? Directions comes under the Measurement Strand in Mathematics curriclum. 

At Level 1 the learning outcomes include:

  • use the language of direction to describe the route

  • use the language of direction to guide a partner 

  • rotate their body and other objects through 1/4 and 1/2 turns

  • follow a sequence of directions

Room 12 wanted to link our learning of directions to our Summer Festival of Movement as our dance was based on Pirates. So we pondered. How would a pirate find their lost treasure? By following a map of course. But how do you read a map?

We found a youtube clip introducing us to the language of direction. Such as: forwards, backwards, left and right, up and down. It supported us in using the specific vocabulary and it was also a fun way to get ‘hooked in’ to direction.

We began our directions adventure by pretending we were pirates who needed to find their lost treasure. We initially worked with our POWER Pals. 

One buddy glued their treasure chest on the grid and their pirate at the opposite end of the grid. They showed their buddy where they had glued these pictures and they copied this directly onto their grid. Their buddy was then sent off while the direction buddy drew a maze. Their buddy came back and then had to listen carefully by following the directions given orally. At the end of the activity, students compared mazes to see if they matched. Students then swapped roles.

Here, the ruru had to find her way back to her eggs in the nest. “Why did your mazes not match?”

Jack said, I don’t know which way is left or right yet.

Obviously Mrs Parkes needed to scaffold the students more. She modelled the lesson again. She focussed on teaching  that if you can make a capital ‘L’ with your hand then the is the left hand.

The students were given another grid to try and expand their learning by having a go.

Why didn’t your mazes match Lillie and Hunter?

Hunter said, I got confused with left and right.

Lillie said, I couldn’t remember where to start counting from.

All of these outcomes were important to know so that we could address them. The students were all brought back to the mat where the teacher reiterated where we started counting from. “If we stay in the box and count that as one step, we aren’t actually moving. So you need to move one step to count one.” The students went back to their work areas with another grid and this time they succeeded.


Boyd and Kaleb, your mazes match. Great job.

Boyd, why do you think Kaleb’s maze matched yours?

Boyd said, I knew what directions to give to Kaleb and he knew what I meant.

Boys, can you repeat the directions to me. How did the ruru find her way back to the nest

Both boys replied, Move 3 spaces right. Move 1 space forward, up. Move left 2 spaces. Move forward 1 space. Move right 1 space. Move up, forward 2 spaces. Move right 2 spaces.

After we all completed this activity, we decided that our class mat was ideal for us to further practice our directions. Our mat was made of squares so it was perfect.

The students said, Mrs Parkes, we have our own treasure chest. Let’s give directions to get to it.

Two students volunteered to try this activity. Boyd and Emily. This would be a great way to see if each student had achieved our learning intention.

The students had many scenarios to practice their new skills and learning. For example, how can we help the pirate find his lost treasure? How can we help the ruru get back to her nest? How can we help the parrot get back to his pirate?

When we can integrate curriculum areas, students develop links across the curriculum. It also provides students with multiple opportunities to practice new skills in an engaging context.

Keywords: directions, left, right, forwards, backwards, up, down.

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