Kids need to learn basic survival skills, and one way is to begin teaching kids how to read a map and use a compass. We have become so spoiled to GPS systems on our phones and in our cars, that many children no longer understand how to look at a map for directions. For their own safety, this is a basic life skill to teach that can also easily work into a unit study in your homeschool curriculum. Using geography and learning about the various types of maps can lead into a fun and practical lesson on how to read a map and use a compass in real life.
Teaching Kids How to Read a Map and Use a Compass
Make sure your children understand what directions are. Depending on the age, simply understanding the concept of north, south, east and west can be tough. Begin with teaching your kids about what directions are. Using a globe, you can talk about the north pole and south pole, equator and of course point out your home state or location in reference to each of these on the map or globe so they can have a reference point.
Have them draw their own map of your home. One simple way is to have them draw a basic picture of the inside of your home. By having something they navigate naturally on their own every day as a reference, you can then practice by using a token of some kind to represent your child (such as a small pebble or action figure) and move that token around the picture of the home according to directions. This helps your child with real life understanding of cardinal direction and can also reinforce which way is right or left.
Practice using a compass on nature walks. Real life experience with a compass means you have to get out and use it while moving around. A great way is to take a nature walk in your neighborhood or local park or wooded area you know is safe. Head out with your child and help them to learn how to get their bearings at your departure location by finding out what direction they are standing and making a note of it. That way, once you reach a point in your walk and are ready to turn around and go home, you can look for that direction on the compass and head that way. Usually you’ll end up within a reasonable distance of your starting point.
Teaching kids how to read a map and use a compass is all about helping them to have good survival skills for potential issues in the future. Nobody wants to think about the possibility that they will need these skills, but everyone wants to know they are available should that need arise.