How to Teach Cardinal Directions to Small Children Through Games

Written by andrew cross
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How to Teach Cardinal Directions to Small Children Through Games
A globe is a great hands-on way to learn about directions. (globe terrestre image by Nicolas D from Fotolia.com)

We all use our basic understanding of directions to read maps, compasses and GPS devices, and we may take this knowledge for granted. Knowledge of the basic directions is essential, and this knowledge should come at an early age. If you're an elementary schoolteacher, you already know that young children often benefit most from interactive learning, so consider setting up games to teach children about the cardinal directions.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Tennis ball
  • White board, chalkboard, or other display

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Tell the students in your classroom to stand up. Explain to them that they are all standing compasses, and demonstrate to them which direction is north, south, east and west. Stand at the head of the room and lead by example, calling out directions for the class to signal. Begin a game of Simon Says using the four cardinal directions. The last student standing is the winner.

  2. 2

    Hide a toy, book or other object somewhere such as in the classroom, in a hallway or on the playground. Bring one student along while you hide it and make it his or her job to instruct other members of the class how to find the object using only cardinal directions as instructions.

  3. 3

    On a white board or chalkboard, draw a basic map of a place with which your children should be familiar. Consider using a local park or even the school building itself. Place all appropriate landmarks and streets on the map, and label a starting location with an "X." Draw a compass on the map and ask the children if they are familiar with directions. Provide examples by showing them that certain objects are north, south, east or west of other objects. Continue by selecting a landmark on the map. Toss a small, soft ball to children individually and ask which direction they must go to get to that landmark from the starting location you selected. The child answers and tosses the ball back to you to select the next student.

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