Craft Compasses for Kids

By Mackenzie Wright
Try making a compass for a school science project.
Try making a compass for a school science project.

All kids need for a good time is a little direction -- and there’s no more appropriate way to do that than with compass crafts. Making a craft compass teaches kids about directions and can demonstrate concepts in magnetism. A few supplies from your craft cabinet -- or even from your kitchen -- are all you need to get started.

Compass Rose

The compass rose is a diagram that shows the compass points, and a craft making a compass rose can help children become familiar with those directions. Ideally, your compass rose should include the four main points (North, East, South and West) as well as the mid-points between them (North-East, South-East, South-West and North-West). Trace a diagram of the compass rose onto a paper plate or a wooden chipboard disc from a craft store. Children can color or paint it, then display it somewhere in the home with the points placed so that they mark the actual directions. If you prefer making a yard project, create a compass rose on a round paving stone and make it the centerpiece of the garden.

Edible Compass

Never forget the old saying, “If you feed them, they will come.” Offering kids a snack and craft in one is often too tempting for them to pass up, and it’s a prime opportunity to teach them about the compass points. Give your child a plate with a cookie or small cupcake, some tubes of pre-made cookie icing and candy for decorations. Mark the compass points on the plate and allow children to make their own edible compass rose using the candy to point to the various directions.

Sun Compass

Long ago, people used the direction of the sun to get their bearings. The sun compass, or solar compass, was similar to what we now call a sun dial. To make a sun compass, put a stick in the ground early in the morning, directly out in a sunny spot. Note the length of the shadow it casts, and place a stone where the shadow ends. Return a few hours later after noon, and note the shadow's direction now. Place a stone at the end of it again. If you stand with your right foot on the morning stone and your left foot on the afternoon stone, you're facing South, your back is to the North, East is on your left and West is on your right. If you're in the southern hemisphere, the directions will all be the reverse (you'll be facing North, and East is on your right). This method can help in a pinch when you're out camping without a compass.

Working Compass

Show your child how to create an actual working compass. To do this, you’ll need to magnetize a sewing needle by rubbing it a couple hundred times on a strong magnet. Stroke the needle across the magnet in the same direction. When you’re finished, place the needle on top of a floating cork in a bowl of water -- it should turn to point North/South.