Kids always love a good adventure. Whether they’re pretending to be pirates on the open sea or cowboys in the Wild West, activating your child’s imagination is a window into another time. At GUSELLA, we love creative play, and we’re also big fans of teaching kids new things while they are playing. In this age where mobile phones and GPS-enabled apps are everywhere, we’ve compiled this list of some of the best navigation tips for kids. We’ve also included some easy ways you can incorporate these navigation tips into fun games for your kids to play while they learn them!
Start Simple: A Compass
Compasses are one of the oldest navigational tools still heavily used today and are available in abundance. Despite all of the digital compasses, the classic ones still work like a charm!
For this tip, find a classic compass at your local hardware or sporting goods store. You can usually find one that is quite inexpensive and that still can handle the job.
Starting your kids out with a compass is a great way to get them into thinking about navigation and the basics of how to get from one place to another (without using their phone!). First, orient them and teach them the basic navigational directions: North, South, East, and West. Explain that the compass works by pointing to the North. Kids always get excited when they hear there is a “big magnet” at the North Pole that makes the compass needle point that way.
Making a Game
Now that your kids have a basic idea of how to use the compass, it’s time to make a game out of it! An easy way to engage your kids is to identify recognizable objects around your neighborhood or–better yet–a park with lots of fun statues or landmarks.
Then, have them hold the compass and slowly turn as they identify the objects. Have them say whether a certain statue or a fountain is “due East” or “due West.” This is a really simple game, and it is a great introduction into navigation for kids!
As your kids get more and more used to using a compass (and the idea of “navigation” in general), you can begin to teach them some of the more “natural” ways to tell which direction they are heading, even if they don’t have a compass!
The Sun Rises….
Around the world, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is easy for kids to remember since they see the sun rise and set every day. So, if they can find east or west depending on how the sun is moving, you can help them decipher where north and south are from the sun’s position and movement in the sky.
Take a Hike
When you’re in the woods, sometimes it can be tricky to see which way the sun is moving. In that case, look for moss on rocks, trees, or logs. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, moss will grow on the north side of rocks, trees, and logs. In the Southern Hemisphere, it grows on the southside of rocks, trees, and logs.
Time for a Drive!
Next time you and the family go out for a drive, take a map with you. Tell your children where you are leaving from on the map. Then, tell them where you want to drive to. Once they find your destination on the map, tell them that they’re in charge of giving you directions on how to get there!
Instead of saying “Turn left on Maple St.,” have them use directions, like “Turn north on Maple St.” This is a game that may require a little bit of patience (and maybe some extra time!) in case your kids accidentally give you the wrong directions.
But, when you get to your destination–thanks to their navigational savvy–they’ll burst with pride at a job well done, and you’ll be happy to know that they learned a bit about navigation!
No matter what you do to teach your kids navigation, remember that it is a lifelong skill that they can take with them no matter where they are. At GUSELLA, we love involving our kids, and yours, in fun, educational games that teach them important life skills. So, next time you’re out and about, see where the sun is, and get ready for a game!