Basic Lensatic Compass Instructions

An Unplugged Explorers guide for kids and parents

Compass Parts

First things, first!

When you're learning to use your lensatic compass, it can be especially helpful to know the different parts and pieces of the compass. Compare your compass with the one on this guide and use it to learn the names of each part.

How to Hold Your Compass

  1. Open the c ompass case so that you can see the dial clearly, as shown in the picture.
  2. Hold it, facing up, in your hand OR put your thumb through the thumb loop and rest it on your thumb and index finger, as shown in the picture.
  3. Keep your hand level and steady so that the compass needle is able to turn and move.
  4. Turn yourself or the compass so that the arrow on the floating dial lines up with the "N".
    (You are now facing North!)
  5. Hold it to eye level and line your site-wire up with objects in each direction.
    Notice what objects are to your North, South, East and West.

Beginner Compass Activities


Pirate Team Treasure Hunt

  1. Create a "treasure" for each two-person pirate team.
    This can be as simple as a special rock, a note, or a small object that both team members will recognise.  

  2. Each two-person team will have a pirate in the crow's nest and a pirate in the dingy. The pirate chosen to be in the crow's nest will hide their treasure within the agreed upon area. (Sometimes a back-yard or area of the park - the bigger the area, the more difficult the game)

  3. All of the pirates in the crow's nests stand a few feet apart and yell directions to their partners (the pirates in the dingy) using ONLY compass directions! (Turn NorthWest 330 degrees! Walk 10 paces!)

  4. For added difficulty, don't allow players to go directly to their treasure! Requiring players to get their parner around a tree or other obsticle first can add to the fun!


The 4 Directions Scavenger Hunt

This activity is similar to a regular scavenger hunt where you give kids a list of items they must go out and find...
BUT, there is a difference; each item muct be found in a
specific area that they find with their compass!

Here are some examples;

  • Something from the North that comes from an animal
  • Something from the West that comes from a tree.
  • Something from the South that reminds you of wind.
    (explain why)
  • Something from the East that reminds you of fire.
    (explain why)

These are just a few examples of ways to get kids
thinking about their environments and using their
creating problem solving skills.


Classic Treasure Hunt

  • Take a few slips of paper and create some clues. Next, place these set of clues around your yard for your little explorers to discover.
  • The first clue should include a starting point AND the direction and distance (aproximate number of kid-sized paces) to the next clue.

Example: Start at the bottom of the steps and turn 30 degrees North East. Walk 25 paces and look for your next clue.

  • The next clue should be hidden (but not TOO hidden) at the location where the previous clue lead them.


Star Walking

  1. Find a clear spot where you can walk several feet in any direction.

  2. Hold your compass level, pick a direction and walk "20 paces"

  3. After 20 paces, using your compass, turn 36 degrees to your right.

  4. Repeat (20 paces & 36 degree right turn) 5 times.

  5. Did you end up back where you started?
    If you marked your "paces" and right turns out perfectly,
    you should be pretty close!


Create Your Own Scavenger Hunt!

Once kids have followed a scavenger or treasure hunt
created by you, have them try creating one for eachother
or even for YOU! This prospect can be
VERY exciting for a young explorer!

For more games and ideas, visit the Parent Portal!

Remember to Remind Kids!

...that even the best navigation skills do not ensure that they would be safe in a wild environment. It's important to stay with your group at all times, to wear a whistle and to practice navigation skills in familiar areas or with close supervision.  

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