The grid gives us two pieces of information: a place's position going across (east-west), and its position going up or down (north-south).
There’s no better introduction to coordinate graphing than a map of a city laid out in a grid, in which the streets are numbered. There are many such cities, but New York City (actually, the Manhattan part of it) is the best known, so that’s what we begin with. This is a great introduction to the value of coordinates and the meaning of ordered pairs.
Students go on to use ordered pairs to plot points and make shapes on grids, and also to name ordered pairs given the points marked on a grid. There’s also much discussion and elaboration about how students can remember the X, Y order.
Common Core Standards:
5.G.1: “Use a pair of perpendicular number lines, called axes, to define a coordinate system ...”