Cardboard Box Compass Skills

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Learning basic navigation skills using compass and pacing. To add interest, cubs are placed under large cardboard box - think poor-mans R2D2 getting confused in park. Here's one we made earlier:


1 compass, cardboard box, head torch (depending on how dark box is) and two cones per pack, 10m tape measure, route cards (see download), pencils, prize


Instructions also in download.
Pre-activity preparation:
The exercise requires a clear 20m x 20m area per six. This square needs to be aligned with magnetic north. The squares can overlap, but the activity may start to resemble Friday night on the bumper cars!
For each square, place a cone at the bottom left (south-western) corner. This is the starting point. Using a compass, place a second cone 10m due east. This is the end point.
Away from the squares, mark out two parallel lines, 10m apart. This is so the cubs can work out how many of their paces makes 10m. If your group is based at a school, a standard netball court is divided into thirds approx. 10.2m apart.

For each six helper:
1) Show the cubs how to use a compass e.g. rotate the bezel so that big arrow lines up with N, E, S or W on dial, turn compass so that needle points to north, then walk in direction of arrow.
2) Explain how you can estimate how far you have walked by counting paces. But, different people have different strides (demonstrate with smallest cub and tallest leader).
3) Hand out one route card and pencil to each cub and ask them to write their names in the form.
4) Line cubs up on 10m line and tell them to walk normally towards the other line, counting their paces. When they reach the other line, write down the number in the form.
5) Take the cubs to their sixes starting cone and ask them to lline up. You will also need a compass, box and headtorch.
6) For each cub in turn, put on head torch, give them the compass and place box on head. Position them at the cone and tell them to follow their route card. When they think they have reached the end, they can take off the box.
7) When each cub finishes, get them to count the paces to their end cone (10m due east from the start cone), and write down how many paces away they were.
8) After everyone has completed the task, award a prize to the closest cub, and/or closest six


  • compass bearings outdoor
  • compass work
  • navigation

Badge Links

  • Map Reader - Compass points
  • Navigator - Walk