Using a Compass

Topic: Using a Compass    Grade: 2

Standard:  Local and regional community 2.3.1

Materials needed:    Book:  Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

Compass for iPad (Free) by Friendly App Studio

Finding Friends on a Map- game and activity at

Compass Rose printout and N,E,S, W printed on separate pieces of paper to hang around the classroom.



Time needed: 30-45 minutes

Engage: Ask students what they already know about a compass and directions. Show them the Compass for iPad on the Smartboard on Airplay. If they have their own iPads and have downloaded the Compass for iPad, have them try it out.

Find North by turning with the compass. When North is found, hang the N up on the wall in the classroom to label the direction. Tell students that once they find North, they will know where all the other Cardinal Directions are by remembering this acronym: Never, Eat Soggy Waffles.

Label all the other Cardinal Directions in the classroom. Have students stand up, and give them directions: “Turn North, East, South, West.” Explain that when they are in the classroom or out in the world, North is always in the same direction (as well as all the other directions). Explain that on a flat piece of paper, map, or GPS navigation, the Compass Rose will show which direction is north. It will appear on a flat piece of paper that North is up, but that is not the case. Show them the compass rose on the Finding Friends map, and tell them that they will need to pay attention to the compass on the page when they play the game later.

Read the book, Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light. At the end, show them the inside of the book cover with the city map, showing the places where the dragon had been, and how he turned in different directions.

Connect the book with the Finding Friends activity by telling students that they will be looking carefully at a “city map” with places that they will need to use the compass directions to find.


Explore: Hand out the maps and worksheets (Finding Friends on the Map activity) and have students partner up and find a spot in the room to work together. Allow them to work on the first problem (Maxwell) before giving them any directions. They may quickly figure out that each square on the map equals 10 miles. After most students have completed the first problem on their own, ask for volunteers to explain how they got the answer, and address any mistakes like not realizing that the squares each equal 10 miles, or that the students needed to start at the “START” square for this problem.

Circulate the room and continue to allow them to work together exploring the map, finding “friends,” and double-checking their work. **

**Important, do not let students work together on the last “Where do you want to go?” section. Instead, tell them to find a place in the room alone, fill out the section, and then go back to their partners and only read the directions. Allow the partner to figure out where the other partner is.

Allow them to work on the “Where do you want to go?” section individually,

Explain: When students are finished finding friends on the map, go over the answers, being sure to point out how some friends (like Molly and Stephanie and others) did not start their journey at the “START” square, and that students needed to read carefully and sometimes infer where a friend started based on what they were doing.

Ideas for Elaborating Further (Optional):

Take students outside with a compass to mark the cardinal directions. (You can print out big sheets of paper with N, E, S,W and put them around the play area.)

Tell them to work with a partner to decide a starting point (jungle gym), and make directions to get to another place on the playground. (Example: Start at the jungle gym and take 10 steps west, then 5 steps south, and finally 8 steps south. You are now at the swings.

Let partners trade directions with another group to follow the directions and end up at the place they need to be.

Posted by Kim Angell, Children’s Assistant