Saturday, January 29, 2011

Using a Compass and Learning the 4 Cardinal Directions

Social Studies and Science

This activity is a follow up to the previous lesson (Making a Simple Compass).

Materials Needed
  • compass 
  • world maps(s)
  • signs: North, South, East, West
  • pen/pencil
  • crayons/markers
  • lodestone (optional) (Today it is called magnetite.)

clipart by

  1. Review definition of a compass (a tool used to find directions).
  2. Depending on the ages/grade levels of students introduce/review the 4 Cardinal Directions. (North, South, East, West)
  3. Use a compass to locate North (South, East, and West).
  4. With the help of the students hang up signs in the room labeling each Cardinal Direction. Older students can make their own signs or you can download the Free Labels below. Younger students can color in the Free black and white labels.
  5. Give each student a handout of a world map. Have them label the 4 Cardinal Directions.
  6. Tell the students that Magnes, a Greek Shepard, discovered lodestone (a natural magnetic stone). Show children Greece on a world map.
  7. Discuss how the Chinese used magnets as the 1st compass and show China on a world map.
  8. Have the children color/label Greece and China on a world map.
  9. Older children can research Magnes, lodestone, and the first compass. 
    You can visit Learning Workroom's website for a free copy of Cardinal Directions Labels (plus free cardinal directions worksheets) that you can download and print.
    Click here: 
    At the website, click on Free Worksheets    
    You can visit Free World Maps for a free map that you can download and print.
    Click here:


  1. Great ideas. We'll have to give it a try at our house.

  2. Oh I used to love orienteering when I was young!

    Thank you so much for sharing this with me at - I'm really looking forward to seeing what you get up to this month.



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