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Use a Compass

Orientation is the launchpad of exploration. Children are lost - hopefully just metaphorically - in a sea of knowledge and places they do not yet understand. It’s your job to help them chart a path but, before they can take the first step, they need to know where they stand. Since a set of coordinates isn’t yet helpful, we’ve found the next best thing.

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Objective

Learn the four cardinal directions

Learn how to find them using a compass.

What you need

Time: 30-60 minutes

A Compass

An open area

Not all who wander are lost

- Tolkien

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Let our Sun be their guide

Photo by Melissa Askew

Finding your place in the universe or even just the woods is easier with the help of our four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.

These are simple but critical, and endlessly useful concepts to understand. Right and left are a matter of perspective but the cardinal directions never change.

Where does the sun come up? That’s east.

Where does the sun go down? That’s west.

Rises in the east and sets in the west. Couldn’t be easier, right? “But DAD, what if it’s cloudy?” I can hear it already.

That, my little explorer, is why someone invented the compass.

A compass contains a magnet that always points toward the North Pole no matter where you are on Earth. As explorers have always known, you can orient yourself and travel in any direction as long as you know which way is north.

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Let our Sun be their guide

Finding your place in the universe or even just the woods is easier with the help of our four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.

These are simple but critical, and endlessly useful concepts to understand. Right and left are a matter of perspective but the cardinal directions never change.

Where does the sun come up? That’s east.

Where does the sun go down? That’s west.

Rises in the east and sets in the west. Couldn’t be easier, right? “But DAD, what if it’s cloudy?” I can hear it already.

That, my little explorer, is why someone invented the compass.

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Step 1.

Place the compass on a flat surface away from metallic things – the palm of your hand tends to work well

Ask your child to identify which direction is north

Now ask them to point to the south

Now east

Now west

Step 1.

compass_waypoint_on_rock

Place the compass on a flat surface away from metallic things – the palm of your hand tends to work well

Ask your child to identify which direction is north

Now ask them to point to the south

Now east

Now west

 

 

Step 2.

Give them the compass and tell them to walk north. South. East. West.

 

See how the arrow always points to the north?

 

 

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Step 2.

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Give them the compass and tell them to walk north. South. East. West.

See how the arrow always points to the north?

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Make it a game.

Take 5 steps to the north.

Take 5 steps to the east.

Take 5 steps to the north.

Spin around 3 times.

Take 10 steps to the west.

Take 5 steps to the south.

Take 5 steps to the east.

Take 5 steps to the south.

Are they in the spot where they started?

Now, if the sun is in a convenient spot, try it without the compass.

Then, hide a toy or piece of candy at the park and give your child the most roundabout way to find it.

Make it a game.

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Take 5 steps to the north.

Take 5 steps to the east.

Spin around 3 times.

Take 10 steps to the west.

Take 5 steps to the south.

Take 5 steps to the east.

Take 5 steps to the south.

Are they in the spot where they started?

Now, if the sun is in a convenient spot, try it without the compass.

Then, hide a toy or piece of candy at the park and give your child the most roundabout way to find it.

Need some additional help?

Check out this awesome video from our friends over at REI

Go build your Strong. Happy. Family.

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