More about Cartesian Co-ordinates

Learning Intention:
To understand how cartesian coordinates are used on maps and in mathematics to describe locations and linear equations. Also to understand the relationships between co-ordinates that are reflected across the x and y axis.

Success Criteria:
Students will be able to draw up a cartesian plane, correctly locate and plot coordinates on the plane, as well as be able to identify where points exist using cartesian coordinates. They will complete the games and activities above and identify what they have learnt from each of the interactives.

Maths is Fun – Cartesian Co-ordinates

Shodor Interactives – General Co-ordinates

The links above take you to several activities to help you learn about Cartesian coordinates. Go to the first activity (Interactive cartesian co-ordinates) and plot three points to form an equilateral triangle in one quadrat. Write the co-ordinates down in your book, then reflect the triangle into each of the three other quadrats. List the plotted points in your book. What do you notice about the relationship between the plotted points?

Now. draw a shape of your own choice in one of the quadrats – it could be a simple polygon, a star, heart or more complicated original design. Then write down the co-ordinates of it’s vertices (in order). Reflect the shape into each of the quadrats and write down their co-odinates. Give a partner your list of co-ordinates and see if they can determine the shape you have created using the co-ordinates given.

Rene Descartes and the Cartesian Plane

Find out the answers to the following questions using your netbook for research:

  1. What is Descarte’s most famous saying?
  2. What did he see on a placard in the town of Breda, that challenged him?
  3. What branch of mathematics is named after Descartes?
  4. What habit did he give up up in the last year of his life?
  5. Now find a map of the school and create a set of cartesian co-ordinates on it. Work out the co-ordinates of the most important places in the school.

Cartesian Co-ordinate Games


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When you play battleships you are learning more than just how to blow up your partner’s ships. It is a great way to learn about cartesian co-ordinates and mapping. Here is a selection of videos about the cartesian plane or cartesian co-ordinate mapping system from Online-math-learning.  This simple maze game from Shodor Interactives requires the player to use cartesian co-ordinates to map a route to the target, avoiding the mines. The Graph Mole has two versions of the game with an animated introduction to cartesian co-ordinates. You could also use a grid on the interactive whiteboard in Elluminate or GroupBoard to set up your own battleships game with a partner. This game at “Free Online games” would be a whole lot better if it used mapping co-ordinates instead of just ‘point and click’ to the target square. IXL maths has some activities, including “points on the cartesian plane” and “co-ordinate graphs as maps“.

This one, “Co-ordinate Battleships”, created by Colin from Flying Colours Maths in UK, is especially good because it has both positive and negative co-ordinates. Play against the computer by typing the co-ordinates into the box. if anyone finds a way to play with a partner using an online whiteboard or grid co-ordinates, please let me know by leaving a comment in the chat.