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Compass Bearing Activities

Updated April 17, 2017

Compass bearing activities range from games that use students' bodies as compasses to compass rose colouring pages and treasure hunts using compasses to locate the treasure. Interactive computer games and outside games, such as "Compass Basketball," integrate compasses with play, allowing students to learn while also being entertained.

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Orienteering Activities and Games

The Scoutarama website offers instructions for an orienteering game that uses compasses to guide players through a triangular-shaped course that ends where it began. Players enter the minimum and maximum distances for the game, as well as units of measure, the type of movement (such as walk, jog, slither) and the number of route cards desired. The site then generates a game route. The game route includes instructions for players to proceed a certain number of units in a specified compass direction. Students also learn the parts of a baseplate or orienteering compass using an online tutorial and quiz at Jan Brett's website. An ebook entitled "Orienteering For The Young" is full of orienteering activities and is available at the Orienteering USA site.

Human Compass and Compass Reading Games

Students can play a "human compass game," which teaches students about compass bearings by having them use their own bodies as compasses. A leader calls out directions or bearings in degrees and players turn their bodies in the directions called out. Only those facing the correct direction get to continue play. One compass reading game involves stakes with arrows pointing in different directions. The players' job is to find the bearings of the arrows using a compass. Players can be timed as they go through the course with a pencil and paper, noting the stake bearings as fast as possible.

Compass Basketball and Minesweepers Compass Game

An Australian scouting website has a printable pdf file with instructions for 10 games involving compasses. "Compass Basketball" simulates a compass face on the playing court. When a bearing is called out, the player must shoot from that position. If he goes to the wrong place on the court, he cannot shoot. "Minesweepers" uses compass bearings shouted out by team members to guide players away from hidden "mines" in the game. The site also includes directions for a scavenger hunt using compass bearings and clues that lead players from clue to clue.

Compass Rose Coloring Pages and an Online Compass Game

The Mariners' Museum has a pdf file of a compass rose (face of a compass), which can be printed out, coloured and labelled with proper directions as a bearing activity. The Learning Ark also has a compass rose activity, which includes a pdf file with a compass rose for students to colour in, as well as directional signs to attach to the proper spaces on the compass face. The British Broadcasting Company hosts an interactive game called "Landscapes" which teaches players about compass bearings using animated graphics.

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About the Author

Kirsten Anderberg has been a published writer since 1999. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, websites and books including "Utne," "HipMama," "ZNet" and "Adbusters." Anderberg received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Washington and her master's degree in history from California State University.

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