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Naughty elephants spray water

Learn the points of the compass with this energetic game.
Plan a session with this activity

Learn the points

  1. The person leading the game should ask if anyone knows what a ‘cardinal’ point is. These are the four main directions (or points) on a compass: north, East, south, est.
  2. Everyone should try and come with their own way of remembering the points. People often use sayings with four words that start with n, e, s, then w - the proper name for these sayings is ‘mnemonics’. You could say ‘never eat soggy wheat’, ‘naughty elephants spray water’, or ‘nobody enjoys stinging wasps’ - just make sure you remember to go the right way (clockwise) around the compass.

Play the game

  1. The person leading the game should tell everyone that each side of the meeting place represents a compass point (north, east, south, and west).
  2. Everyone should stand in the middle. The person leading the game should call out a compass point, and everyone should run to the correct side of the space.
  3. The person leading the game should keep calling out compass points.
  4. Once everyone feels a bit more confident, the person leading the game should include some more actions, for example ‘broken compass!’ (everyone should spin on the spot), ‘we’re lost!’ (everyone should pull a confused face), ‘exploring!’ (everyone should walk with their hands cupped around their eyes like binoculars), and ‘upside down map!’ (everyone should mix up and walk around the room).
  5. Keep playing until everyone is confident that they know their way around a compass.


This activity helped you to develop skills. Why is it useful to know the points of a compass? What does a compass do? When might you use a compass? What else do we use the directions for (for example, describing wind)? Almost every language has a word for north, south, east, and west – why do you think these directions are so important?


This activity was also a chance to be active. Did you enjoy being active in a game, or do you prefer another way to be active? Which skills did you use in this game – did you need to be fast, or agile if the directions changed fast? What about extra actions – did they need you to balance, or stretch, or use your body differently? Did you prefer the moving or the actions? Is your favourite way to be active like this game, or is it very different?


Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.