A Compass of My Own
This science activity offers a fun way to learn about directions.
Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Attention and Focus
What you need:
- small bowl
- long metal needle
- masking tape
What to do:
- Your child can use the magnet to magnetize the head of the needle by striking it against the magnet 30 to 40 times, always striking in the same direction. Put a piece of tape on the end of the needle that is not magnetized.
- Explain to your child that a magnet will always face north. Demonstrate this by tying a string to the center of the needle. Which way does the magnetized head face?
- Ask your child to write N (for north), S, W, and E on pieces of tape. Help her affix these to the bowl, pointing out that east is to the right of north; south is behind north; and west is to the left of north.
- Add water to the bowl. Stick the needle through the cork and float it in the bowl.
- Outside, ask your child and a couple of her friends to use the compass to find which way is north. Then see if they can follow a set of directions using the compass. ("Go three paces north. Now go two paces east."). Suggest that they play a treasure-hunt game using the compass to follow directions.
- promotes an understanding of directionality
- develops the ability to follow step-by-step directions
- encourages critical-thinking skills