How to find North Using Your Shadow, a Stick, and Two Stones
Did you know you can use your shadow and a stick to find true north? This is a simple activity to do with your child to introduce them to shadows, directions, and even compass reading.
- a sunny day
- a stick
- two small stones
- a piece of chalk or something to mark your postion
- a compass (optional)
1. Have your child stand in a sunny location and hold a stick as straight vertically as possible.
2. Place a stone at the end of the shadow.
3. Mark the position where your child had placed the stick and wait 15 minutes. We used a piece of chalk to draw a small circle. Now you can go do something else during the 15 minutes and you won’t lose your place.
4. Have your child hold the stick in the same location as before. Then mark the end of the stick with the second stone.
4. Have your child stand with her left foot on the first stone and her right foot on the second stone.
She should be facing North. You may wish to test this with a compass. This is a great time to teach your child how to use a compass and about directions. It might not all stick if your child is very young, but they’ll be familiar with the concept next time you bring it up.
Is finding North with your shadow accurate?
You might be wondering if this method always works. A reader on my blog had the same question. I did some research and learned that this is the most accurate in the spring and fall of the year and in the middle of the day. Woodland Ways had this to say,
Just using the two marker method early in the morning and late afternoon in the middle of both summer and winter could mean you are a considerable way out on your bearings.
They listed the spring and autumn equinox as the best times.
Why not try it out and see how accurate it is at different times of the year?
This activity in one of many nature activities found on my “Month in Nature” Calendars.
This post is part of a 10 Day Learning with Nature Series. If you enjoyed this activity, you might want to take a look at the other posts in the series.