This way, that way, which way next?

Marking out a grid on the floor of the classroom never struck me as being such a powerful learning tool as it turns out it really is.


The grid was 6x6 and on our mat area.

The students were very excited and curious as to why it was there and what it was for.

“Is it for keeping us in our own spots on the  mat?”

“Is it so we know where to sit?”

“It looks like Battleships.”

“It’s like a map.”

“Are we making graphs?”

Were some of the ideas and questions that the students had.

In actual fact this grid had multiple uses.

The first way we used it was for computational thinking - unplugged. We were to use it to mark out pathways to find objects. Arrows were used to show direction and the number of squares that we needed to move to be able to reach our target. In some of the squares we placed roadblocks that we had to maneuver around to get where we were going. 

Asking the students for ideas of language we can use for instructions lot’s of ideas came forward such as right, left, backwards, forwards, full steam ahead, straight, duck, jump, north, west, south, east, diagonal.

Using some of this language, such as forward, ¼ turn left, or right plus terms such as up and down, the students had to explain to each other how to physically proceed to the target from our starting point. Having the students physically follow the pathway directions enabled them to check on their accuracy. We found Ihaka at the end of the path.




Following this they went onto the website to a game called “Code Builder”.


This  enabled them to practice their new found pathway skills in digital form by laying out the algorithm on screen and letting it run. There are opportunities to spot errors and debug these during game play where making mistakes means learning from them and having another go.

In the following days other ways to use the grid were explored and taught.

Using the language of coordinates we learned how to find items with the coordinates for the squares. Learning about the x and y axis and how to read the coordinates led us into mapping skills for maths.

Finding out and identifying the coordinates of squares where students were standing was a fun game and the physical movement into squares on the grid enabled them to gain more of an understanding of how these operate.



Another activity was putting the coordinates on the lines so that the precise coordinates were where two lines intersect. This was initially a bit more difficult to grasp. With moving themselves to specific coordinates and telling each other where to go, the students soon got the hang of it. Following on from this they were able to complete mapping tasks using a paper map with coordinates and identify correctly the objects at each coordinate point.

The students enjoyed playing with the grids during their ‘can do’ time and before school. Hearing them using the language related to pathways and coordinates was a powerful reminder that physical movement and placement of their bodies as well as the element of fun and play have a big impact on learning and remembering.

“I loved having the grid on the mat, it was fun working out where people were standing and how to get to them.”

“I can remember how to find coordinates now because I had to find the right square and my friends helped me.”

“This was so much fun. I know more about reading maps now.”

“Now I can draw my own treasure maps for people to find stuff.”

“I liked sitting in a square and finding out which coordinate it was.”


Curriculum Links

Digital Curriculum - Computational Thinking


Digital Curriculum, pathways, coding, directional language, math, mapping, coordinates

Who is where