Pathfinders Post-Camp Lesson Plan

(Grade 4-6)


While at Heartland Conference Retreat Center, students had the opportunity to learn how a compass works and how to follow directions using a compass. This lesson takes the concept a step further by adding maps. Students will practice drawing and reading maps and see how compasses and maps work together to help a person find their way.


  • Students will be able to label the parts of a map
  • Students will be able to find real life objects based on a map
  • Students will practice using both a compass and a map


Grade 4:

  • A map scale and cardinal and intermediate directions can be used to describe the relative location of physical and human characteristics of Ohio and the United States.

Grade 5:

  • Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include in maps.
  • Latitude and longitude can be used to make observations about location and generalizations about climate.

Grade 6:

  • Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include and how it is displayed.
  • Latitude and longitude can be used to identify absolute location.


  •       Paper
  •       Writing utensils
  •       Compass
  •       “Treasure” student brings in to hide (Have it be something small and inexpensive like a McDonanld’s toy or gumball machine prize. You could also pass out simple prizes so they do not have to bring things from home and it is fair. Examples could be stickers, erasers, pencils, etc.)


This lesson takes place in the classroom, in the school yard, and at home.


  •         Parts of a map                                         –                                           30 min – 1 hr
  •         Designing a treasure map                     –                                          1 hour
  •         Scavenger Hunt                                      –                                           1- 2 hours
  •         Mapping the neighborhood                 –                                           homework


Now that you have developed skills in using a compass, you need to learn how to navigate using it. A compass tells you very little if you do not have a map or other directions to go with it. We learned about how to use a compass while we are at camp so now we will talk about maps. Before we practice using maps, let us learn about some of the vocabulary.

  • CARTOGRAPHY – the making of maps
  • TITLE – the title of the map. It should be descriptive enough so that people know what they are looking at
  • COMPASS ROSE – shows which direction is north on the map
  • CARDINAL DIRECTIONS – North, South, East, and West
  • SCALE – It allows people to determine distances in real life between points on the map by measuring the distance on the map. For example, 1 inch on the map may equal 10 miles in real life.
  • LEGEND OR KEY – tells people what the symbols on the map mean
  • LATITUDE – imaginary line that circles the earth parallel to the equator. It tells how far away from the equator a person is. It describes North and south distances
  • LONGITUDE – an imaginary line the circles the earth and runs perpendicular to the equator. It describes east and west distances.

Label the parts of the map, worksheet


Tell the kids that they will now get the chance to practice drawing maps. Take the kids outside to the school yard. Give them paper and some sort of writing utensil. If you have a compass, have them use it to figure out which way is north. Separate them into groups and have each group construct a map of the school yard with proper labels for each part of the map.

To take this activity a step further, you can have students bring in some sort of white elephant type prize to hide somewhere in the school yard. The group can then create directions using a compass that leads to the “treasure” they can write the directions on the back of their map. They should have at least 4 steps before reaching the treasure. Have them mark the starting point on the map.

The groups should switch maps and try to find the other groups treasure. Have them mark on the map with a dot the location of each stop. Have them mark on the map with an “X” the location of the treasure.


As a homework assignment, the students can map their houses, neighborhoods, routes to school, etc.

Parts of a Map Worksheet

The following is a map of a made up campground around an imaginary lake called Awesome Lake. Please label each part of the map.


Use the following words to label the parts of the map:

  • West
  • South
  • Legend
  • North
  • Title
  • East
  • Compass Rose
  • Scale

Question: Latitude and Longitude were not present on this map. Why do you think this is?

Random Acts of Kindness

Today, February 17, is Random Acts of Kindness Day in the United States of America. Random Acts of Kindness is a movement designed to impact the world in a positive way through kind actions. The idea is that if one person performs a kind act, it will spread throughout the community. For more information, stories, and even lesson plans regarding kindness, visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at

If you would like to help spread kindness, here are a few very simple things you can try:gps-class

  1. Hold open the door for someone
  2. Write an encouraging note
  3. Smile: a smile can brighten up a bad day
  4. Wash the dishes or do some other chore for a family member or friend
  5. Bake cookies and share them
  6. Allow someone to go in front of you while waiting in a line
  7. Fill any need that you happen to see

Discover how you can change the world with one small act of kindness!


By |2016-10-13T15:26:50+00:00February 17th, 2015|Educator Resources, Making a Difference|0 Comments

Science, Anyone?

What do you think of when you think of a scientist? Do you picture an “Albert Einstein” type figure with crazy hair, a lab coat, and a fizzing test tube? Do scientists have to wear lab coats and have fancy degrees? The answer is a resounding “No!” Anyone can be a scientist! All that is needed is an inquisitive mind and the ability to search for an answer. Because of this children make excellent scientists. They are constantly asking “why” and looking for answers. If you are a teacher or a parent, take this as an opportunity to help your child learn about the world around them.

If you desire to do science but don’t know where to start, there are some really great citizen science projects that you can be a part of. If you like birds, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology webpage to find some projects to join:

One of their projects coming up next month (Feb 13-16, 2015) is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Check it out and see how many birds you can find in your own backyard!

If birds aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other opportunities studying a variety of topics including rocks, space, frogs, bugs, plants, and many more. Scientific American has a webpage with a nice collection of many different projects to choose:

So go out there! Find a topic you are interested in, and start doing science!

You never know what you might discover!

Pathfinders Pre-Camp Lesson Plan

Pathfinders Pre-Camp Lesson Plan

(Grade 3-6)compassWest


From the beginning of time, people and animals have used various techniques to navigate throughout the world. To prepare for the Pathfinders class at Heartland, students will learn about some of these methods of navigation. In addition, they will create their own compasses to understand how these tools work.


  • Students will develop research skills
  • Students will understand one of the different ways animals navigate
  • Students will practice presenting information to their peers
  • Students will understand the basic concept of how compasses work


  • Computer
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Sewing needles (one per group)
  • Small magnets (one per group)
  • Corks (one per group)
  • Small cups of water (one per group)
  • Pair of Pliers (one per group)


  • Introduction & vocab       –  30 min – 1 hour
  • Migrations                        –  1-3 days
  • Create Compass             –  1 hour


Tell the students that when they go to camp at Heartland Conference Retreat Center, they will be taking a class that teaches how to use a compass. Ask: “What are compasses used for?” Wait for responses. “A compass is one tool people use to help them to figure out geographic directions. The needle on a compass will always point to the north. Compasses help us to navigate. Who has heard the word ‘navigate’ before? Who can tell me what this word means?” A simple definition of Navigate is the process of an individual finding their way from point A to point B.  “Why is it important to navigate? What happens when we do not know how to navigate?”

“Using a compass is only one way to figure out how to get places. What are other ways we navigate? What are some ways you know how to get places?”

“Does anyone know how compasses work? Did you know that the entire earth is like one big magnet? A compass points to the North because of the magnetic force of the earth. The magnetic pull from the magnetic pole in the Arctic attracts the magnet inside the compass. This causes the compass needle to point to the North. Let’s define a couple of the words I just said. First of all, raise your hand if you know what a magnet is. Does anyone think they can define the word ‘magnet’?” Let a few students respond. “What about magnetic force. What do you think this is?” A magnetic force is a force caused by the electricity in the atoms of an item (usually a metal). It tends to attract or push away other magnetic objects. “I also mentioned that the Earth has a magnetic pole. What do you think I meant by that? A magnetic pole on the Earth is caused by the planet’s natural magnetism. There are two magnet poles, north and south. These are the locations with the strongest magnetic force. This is why a compass points north.

“Now that we know how a compass works, let’s learn about the parts of a compass. I am going to pass out a worksheet with a simple picture of a compass and we will label it together.” (Pass out the “Parts of a Compass Worksheet.”) Go through each part.

  1. Base Plate: The flat parts of the compass. Always keep the base plate parallel with the ground. If it is perpendicular, it will read incorrectly
  2. Needle: The red needle always points north.  Never follow the red needle unless you want to go north.
  3. Dial: The movable circle that has the degrees of the circle listed.
  4. Orientation Arrow: The arrow on the base of the dial, usually with stripes
  5. Direction of Travel Arrow: The arrow on the base plate that points forward. This should always point in the same direction of their toes or straight out from their belly button.
  6. Degrees: A circle is divided into 360 degrees.  An angle is made of degree and shows how far away from North you are.  As you increase in degree you increase your angle. North = 0 or 360, East = 90, South = 180, and West = 270. More precision can be gained by using actual degrees instead of north, south, east and west.


Nature Navigation

“We talked a little bit about compasses and navigation. What are some reasons people may need to travel?” Some ideas may include trade, exploration, moving to a new place for new opportunities (ex. pioneers or pilgrims), early hunter gatherer societies may have followed game migrations, etc.

“Those are all really great reasons for people to travel. What about animals? Do animals ever travel? What are some reasons an animals may travel?” Find new territory, search for food, shelter, mates, etc. “What is it called when animals make seasonal journeys?” Migrations. “Why do you think that animals may migrate?” Food availability, water availability, habitat requirements for different life cycle stages, and weather conditions. Can any of you think of some examples of animals that migrate for different reasons?” Explain to the students that they will have the opportunity to learn more about animal migrations. Have the students choose an animal that migrates. Either alone or in groups, the students will research about that animal migration: why the animal migrates, where it migrates to and from, and how it navigates (how it knows where it is going). After students gather information, they can create a poster or some other creative way to present their information to the rest of the class. Examples may be:

  • North American birds – migrate due to seasonal changes that affect food availability.
  • Salmon – migrate to lay eggs in calm freshwater streams and then live in the ocean as adults
  • Arctic Tern – longest migration known of any animal. It travels about 43,000 miles every year from pole to pole so that it will experience summer in both the southern and northern hemisphere.
  • African Wildebeest – migrate because of water and food availability
  • Monarch Butterfl