Compass Learning Games

Written by charlie watkins
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Compass Learning Games
A traditional compass ready for use. (compass image by cico from

Learning to use a compass is an essential part of outdoor education for cub scouts, brownies, and elementary students. Children have several games to play that reiterate and reinforce compass skills. These games require few props and little planning, and are appropriate for children seven and older.

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Divide your group of students into two teams. Each team has a password, in three parts, which they must discover. Teams get a compass and directions to the first piece of the password. Once a group gets to the first portion of the password, they will find it will also contains directions to the next section of the password, and so on. The first team to follow their compass and collect their entire password wins.


Have a student put a large "N" on the wall to signify north. A large circle on the board, with the "N" at the very top will be useful. Using similarly-sized drawings or cutouts of animals, give students turns being the "zoo director" who calls out for another student to place an animal in a certain segment relative to the circle. For example, "Jacob, could you place your giraffe in the southwest section of the zoo?" If students are unsure of where the sections are, give them hints and reminders. Once all the animals have been placed on the board, take on the role of one of the animals and quiz your students with questions like, "I am an animal in the northeast section, north of the lions, but east of the zebra. Which animal am I?"

Planes and Pilots

Divide your group into teams of two. One team member will be the "plane" and the other, the "pilot". The plane will be blindfolded while the pilot holds a compass. Each team will be positioned around a large, 30 to 40 foot, circle. In the centre of the circle is "the prize", which can be a ball or small trophy. To start the game, each pilot spins their plane around in a circle several times until they are unsure of which direction they are facing. The pilot then instructs their plane toward the prize, using compass directional cues and pace numbers. It should be trickier than a straightforward set of directions, as the plane will be disoriented and off balance. First team to the prize wins.

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