One of the first geographic skills our children need is to be able to find things on a map or globe. To do this, they need to know the four main directions, or cardinal directions. National Geographic has a wonderful free resource to help teach youngsters these skills. Their Explore Cardinal Directions resource includes six engaging activities that teach children to:
- Recognize the cardinal directions north, south, east, and west and understand where these are in their classroom, school, or on a map or globe.
- Locate the Equator, the Poles, and the continents of North and South America on a map or globe.
- Describe how temperatures are higher at the Equator and lower at the Poles.
The tasks start out with simply finding things in a room, then expand to outside a room, using a compass, and then exploring maps and globes.
To help with the last task, National Geographic offers an Americas Mapmaker Kit as a free download. The kit includes maps of North America in various sizes — a 21-page printable Mega Map, a tabletop map, or a 1-page map.
These are great resources for the homeschool handy mom — and free!
Which Way Are You Going?
To help you find things on a map or globe, you need to know the four main directions that tell you where things are. Everything on earth is in a certain direction from where you are now. Let’s learn the names of the four main directions. They are: north, south, east, and west.
East is where the sun rises. If you don’t know where that is, you can find out early tomorrow morning.
West is where the sun sets. You can find out where that is late today or tomorrow.
Once you’ve found out where the sun rises, you can find all the directions from where you are. Here’s how. Stick your arms straight out from your sides. Slowly turn yourself until your right arm points to where the sun comes up. Keep your arms straight out! Your right arm is now pointing east and your left arm is now pointing west. Keep those arms straight out just a little longer. Look straight ahead. Your nose is pointing north. The back of your head is facing south.
“Which Way Are You Going?” from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Home Geography by C. C. Long
Excellent first geography text that covers cardinal directions right at the beginning. Free.