Make a Compass {Simple Magnetic Compass for Kids}

We have an easy way for kids to make a compass on their own.  This simple magnetic compass needs only a few basic household supplies (we thought you’d like that!).  Kids Activities Blog loves helping kids learn about the world around them with simple hands-on projects like this.

Make a Compass {Simple Magnetic Compass for Kids}

Make a Compass

It’s easier than you might think to make a compass. All you need are a few simple household items and you can put together a compass that shows due North with surprising accuracy.

To make a compass, all you need are four simple items:

* bowl of water

* sewing pin or needle

* magnet

*small piece of craft foam, cork, or paper

How to Make a Compass for Kids {Simple Magnetic Compass}

Magnetic Compass

Cut a small circle from a material that will float in water. We used some craft foam but cork or even a piece of paper will work.  The next step is to turn the sewing needle into a magnet. To do this, stroke the needle across the magnet about thirty to forty times. Be sure to stroke in one direction only, not back and forth. The needle will now be magnetized.

Next, place the needle on the circle of craft foam or cork and place it on top of the water. Try to place it in the center of the bowl, keeping it away from the edges. The needle will begin to slowly turn around and eventually the needle will point North and South. We were so amazed to watch the needle finding North and we checked the accuracy of our diy compass with a compass app (we used Compass from Tim O’s Studios. It was free to download and very simple to use).

How it works

Every magnet has a north and south pole. A compass is small magnet that aligns itself with the north and south poles of the Earth’s magnetic field. As the needle is stroked across the magnet, it becomes magnetized because the electrons within the needle straighten up and align themselves with the magnet. The magnetized needle then aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field when it is placed on top of the water.

More Kids Activities

Your child will be so proud that they were able to make a compass on their own.  We’d love to hear how they used their new magnetic compass.  For more great kids activities, you may want to head in the direction of these ideas:




101 Kids Activities that are the Bestest Funnest Ever
Ness About Ness

Ness is the creator of One Perfect Day a site full of creative ideas for kids to play and learn, family recipes, children’s book reviews and information about positive parenting and connecting with our children. Ness loves creating fun kids’ activities and has decided that permanently having paint under her fingernails and play dough in her hair is a fashion statement. You can find One Perfect Day on Facebook and Twitter or follow along on Pinterest