How to Teach Young Children to Use the Compass

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Teach young children to use a compass by first explaining what a compass is used for and showing them the four basic geographic directions. Observe more tips on how to teach young children to use a compass from an elementary teacher in this free video.

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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Jan Polen, and I'm a teacher in North Canton, Ohio. Today, I'll be talking about how to teach young children to use a compass. Step one would be to explain to the child what a compass is used for. They need to understand the four basic geographic directions after that. A good way to help them remember that is to use a mnemonic memory device such as never eat soggy waffles. This will help them remember N is for north, never, E, eat, east, S, south, soggy, and W, west, waffles. It's important also to teach them that reading a compass is like reading a clock. We start at the top and go clockwise. After the student understand the four basic geographical directions, then you can show them a book such as this, or a map that has a compass rose. Explain that the compass rose is often in the bottom corner. They'll see the north, south, east, and west on a compass rose. Give them opportunities to practice locating those directions on a map. Ask them to point to the eastern coast. The south, the west, and the north. After they've had some practice identifying the directions on a map it's time to get the compass rose back out. Show them the real compass and explain how it always points to the north. Give the students opportunities to move around and actually move their bodies and realize the compass always comes back to point to the north. It would be fun for them to play a game such as the game called the which way game. In this game, a student is given a compass and asked to take steps in a certain direction. You may say take three steps north. Then take four steps east. Finally, the child reaches a predetermined destination. That's a useful way for them to understand how and why to use a compass. I hope you'll find these activities helpful when you're teaching a young child to use a compass. Thanks, I'm Jan Polen.


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