Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fun day hiking activity: Have kids build their own compass

Kids can make the equivalent of this well-tuned compass with just a few
household items. Photo courtesy of earl53 / Photoree.
Though compasses are inexpensive to purchase, kids can make their own – you may want to bring the materials with you on a hike and walk them through putting it together on a rest break. You’ll need: a small clear, transparent deli container (so you can see through the top), a cork stopper, a sewing needle, a cup of water from your canteen.

Begin by pouring the water into the deli container; use just enough water so that the cork stopper will float. Next rub the needle between your fingers (be careful, though, so children don’t poke their fingers with the sharp edge); this will “magnetize” it. Poke the needle through the cork stopper. Place the cork stopper in the water so it floats on its side. The needle should point on the north-south axis. Compare it to your own compass to see if that is the case. Have children figure out which way is west and east.

By placing a lid on the container, your children can carry the “homemade” compass as they walk to see which way they are traveling. Keep the container level, though, as walking, so water doesn’t slosh over clothes or inside a backpack.

Materials: Small clear, transparent deli container; cork stopper; sewing needle; water (one cup)

Ages: 5 and up

Learn about more than a hundred other hiking diversions for kids in Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.