K-2 Activities

These activities for Navigation were updated in late 2008 and early 2009, along with the Learning Results.

Ideas to try....

While navigation is a complex subject involving many higher level skills, the information rests on basic concepts that may be developed and expanded in the early grades. For example, the difference between visual and verbal directions (rutter vs. chart) is easily demonstrated in classroom activities. The underlying problems in navigating at sea and the differences between coastwise navigation, where landmarks are visible, and navigation out of sight of land, are concepts within the grasp of young children. 

Science and Technology

The basic principles of the earth’s movement around the sun, the day/night cycle and the seasons are covered at this age, and lay groundwork for understanding navigation, as does basic knowledge of the stars and the sun as a star. Children may be interested in the constellations and their accompanying stories and legends.  This knowledge may be compared to historic theories of a flat earth in mythology and will lead to discussion of scientists who challenged prevailing thought in their times. 

The concept of the different kinds of time-keeping devices is useful, and an especially good resource is the book Sea Clocks: the story of longitude by Louise Borden (see resource list.)


Simple mapping, trying novel ways of measurement, and looking at some historic devices that were used for navigation will be useful. Most children are familiar with contemporary maps and even GPS in cars. The Internet offers possibilities: look at MapQuest to illustrate the difference between visual and verbal directions.