Which way is north?

10 - 11 years
Ideas to help your child practise their numeracy skills - with you, and online
Girls looking at a conmpass and map

Developed in partnership with Education Services Australia

The Australian Curriculum sets the goal for what all students should learn as they progress through their school life. Skills in the Year 5-6 curriculum include:

  • recognising that directions can be given using compass points
  • understanding that a place's location can be given in direction and distance from a particular point
  • calculating the distance and direction of one location on a map to another, using scale and compass points.

It’s easy to help your child practise these skills as part of everyday life – just use these simple ideas.

Notice, navigate and explore

Smart devices make it easy to find our way around the world, but it’s still important that your child learns how to describe locations using compass points and distance. Help your child practise with ideas such as these:

  • give your child a compass (or a compass app on a smart device) and encourage them to use it
  • notice where the sun rises and sets, and use these markers to talk about the location of things you can see
    I can see the sun setting behind the library, so that must be west.
    The sunrise is on our right, so we must be facing north.
  • display a map of your town where your child can see it easily, and talk about the location of different places using compass points
    Our suburb is on the north side of the lake.
    The cultural centre is on the south edge of town.
  • give your child practice at using street directories, maps and navigation apps, and challenge your child to work out their own route (rather than letting the app do all the work)
  • look at maps to find interesting places, work out where they are relative to each other, and plot good travel routes.
  • explore travel books, atlases, printed maps and online mapping tools
  • use the scale on a map to work out the distance and direction between different points. Challenge your child to compare the distance as the crow flies (the shortest distance between the two points) and the distance if you drive.

Go online

For online reinforcement, Rainforest: use compass points will give your child practice at:

  • using compass directions and scale markings to locate places on a map.

Rainforest: make a walking track will give your child practice at:

  • using grid references and compass direction to interpret a map.



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Last modified
7 April 2020