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Axis Definition: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Allison Petrovic

Allison has experience teaching high school and college mathematics and has a master's degree in mathematics education.

In this lesson, we will define the term 'axis' and talk about the x-axis and y-axis on the Cartesian coordinate plane! We will also go over how to locate any coordinate point on the Cartesian coordinate plane.

What Is an Axis?

Do you remember learning about the number line? Maybe you remember seeing a number line above a whiteboard or chalkboard in your school classroom. Zero is always in the center of the number line, and to the left are negative numbers while to the right are positive numbers.

What does this have to do with an axis? Well, an axis is essentially a number line that helps make up a coordinate plane--it serves as a reference line for measuring coordinates. On the Cartesian coordinate plane, there are two axes ('axes' is the plural form of 'axis'). One axis is horizontal (called the x-axis) and one is vertical (called the y-axis), and the two cross each other at the number zero.


The Cartesian coordinate plane has an x-axis and a y-axis that intersect at zero.
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Writing Coordinate Points

The x-axis and y-axis are used to locate coordinate points. Think of a coordinate point as simply a dot on the Cartesian coordinate plan. Every coordinate point has an x-value and a y-value. The x-value tells us the location of the coordinate point on the x-axis. The y-value tells us the location of the coordinate point on the y-axis.

When writing a coordinate point, the x-value and y-value are separated by a comma, with the x-value first and the y-value second. Both values are inside a set of parenthesis.


The coordinate (1, 2)
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Locating Coordinate Points

Now that we know about coordinate points, let's locate the coordinate point (1, 2) on the Cartesian coordinate plane. When locating any coordinate point on the Cartesian coordinate plane, we always start at the center. The center is called the origin. Its location is (0, 0).

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