Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Compass Rose

Over the last few weeks, my students have really been interested in geography and maps.  Following this interest, we have been learning about directionality and the compass rose.  One of the first lessons we had was looking at a compass and labeling our classroom:

This has been quite interesting as we are now using words such as, "Let's go South and open the door to put on our outdoor shoes,"  or "Oh, the Nature Shelf corner is the North!"  The children have also spontaneously integrated this knowledge into their activities:

Making a compass rose with shape blocks.  "Look, I made a compass rose!"
Drawing a compass rose with oil pastels (which are always available on the art shelf).
The children's interest prompted me to put together an additional activity.  Knowing that my students really enjoy coloring, I decided to prepare a lesson where they can color and label a compass rose.  A quick Internet search led me to an ideal compass rose design at Don't Eat the Paste:

I chose this design because the heart in the middle clearly orients the page while the child is working with it - they can tell if it's upside down if the heart is upside down.

Next, I cut small color-coding stickers into rows of four and wrote North, South, East, and West:

Compass Rose labels.

After showing the kids at circle time how to complete the activity, I strategically placed the materials for the lesson at table in the classroom (for use by one child at a time):

Small tray with pencil, labels, and crayons; tray with coloring pages; tray with  compass...

...facing North, of course! :)
The students have not only had fun experimenting with the compass and matching the directions with our classroom labels, but they are also enjoying the calming and centering effect that coloring has:

They look fantastic displayed with our Maps of the World!

Compass Rose work.


  1. Super cool! We are big fans of compasses over here. I am impressed by how artistic this work became however.

    1. Thanks! At first I was going to use standard white labels, but I didn't have enough left... I only had the colored dots. I think they ended up adding an interesting element to the work.

  2. Hi, great idea! May I ask where you found the compass outline in the top set of photos please?

  3. I've been trying to remember where I got the compass - I think I googled compass rose images and chose from there…

  4. Brilliant compass rose design which would look fantastic for a wall display! I have added this link to my article about compass roses on Newtonsapple.org.uk
    Also check out the beautiful design of a compass rose taken from the cantino world map of 1502. Pure class!