The Animal Grid Game

Early Years/Primary (Age 3 – 9)

Curriculum Goal

Kindergarten: Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviour

  • Describe, sort, classify, build, and compare two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures, and describe the location and movement of objects through investigation (#17).

Primary: Geometry and Spatial Sense

  • Solve problems and create computational representations of mathematical situations by writing and executing code, including code that involves sequential events.

Primary: Patterning and Algebra

  • Identify and describe the locations and movements of shapes and objects.


  • Students will be sitting on the carpet in a circle.


  • Animal grid (Appendix A): 1 large laminated grid for teacher, 1 small grid placed in plastic sleeve per student
  • Clipboards
  • Markers
  • Tissues to erase routes


  • Introduce students to the grid, highlighting the number of squares there are in each column and row.
  • Explain that students will be planning routes for a zookeeper to get from the animal house (top left square marked with an X) to an animal.
  • Introduce rules: paths cannot go on a diagonal or through a square that has another animal on it.
  • Complete a demo of a 2-step pathway (e.g. to feed the rhinoceros, go 4 squares to the right and 4 squares down). Be sure to put a dot on the square where the path changes direction.
  • Introduce the code as a method to write this pathway, using arrows pointing in the direction of movement with the number of spaces moved beside it (e.g. → 4 and ↓ 4 to the rhinoceros).
  • For more practice, have students plan the route to another animal and/or write a 2-step code (→ 7 and ↓ 1) but do not draw a pathway. Have students visualize what animal the zookeeper is going to feed.
  • Give students their own grid on a clipboard and repeat the activity individually.
  • Encourage students to make multiple routes to the same animal.

Look Fors

  • Do children use directional language (e.g. right, left, up, down)?
  • Can children visualize the code?
  • How do children communicate the code? Through symbols? Through language? Both?


  • As children become proficient, introduce 3-step codes and encourage children to create pathways with more steps.

Related Lessons

Practice using directional vocabulary to describe location and movement on a grid.

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