© Copyright 2020 - Suburban Adventures - All maps/resources freely available on a Creative Commons basis

Navigation for Kids

Navigation - "the process or activity of ascertaining one's position and planning and following a route" begins in early childhood. From the time at which children begin to crawl, they are navigating. As they get older, their ability to "navigate" , to move from point to point, improves.

The training pages here describe some of the stages that children will pass through and the skills that they will develop as they do so. The purpose of these pages is to provide leaders and parents with exercises and games that they can use to help children develop these basic navigation skills.

These pages are under continual development - if you have suggestions or additional games, we'd be delighted to hear from you.

We've divided the skills and activities into four main age groups
Click the image to see the skills and activities for each age group


Early Childhood

As early as one year old, children start to learn positional awareness
- where they are in relation to other things
- where things are in relation to one another

Concepts such as pointing and gestures and words such as on/under, in front/behind,  here/there and in/out are generally understood by children even before they can talk.


Joeys: 6-8 years old

As they grow and become more mobile, youngsters ability to understand and interact with the environment around them is critical. 

At 6-8 years old, kids understand most positional words and know how to use them to describe things or actions to others. They can negotiate obstacle courses, build things with blocks and solve puzzles. 

The activities here provide opportunities for children to practise spatial awareness skills and demonstrate their proficiency with them.


Cubs: 8-11 years old

At 8 years old, children are more aware of the area around them and understand about personal safety to navigate through it with reasonable safety.

Activities that develop essential physical skills such as gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness are important.

Cubs are physically able to take part in basic navigation events and have sufficient spatial awareness to comprehend concepts such as basic mapping, map scale and cardinal compass directions. Children in Cub Packs get the opportunity to learn and practise these skills in a group situation. 


Scouts: 11-14 years old

By Scout age, children are safe enough to participate, in a restricted environment, in small groups.

They now have the ability to understand artificial concepts such as grid coordinates, latitude and longitude, mapping land-forms.

Scouts have the ability to learn more advanced navigation skills; skills that allow them to choose the best route from one point to another using a map.


Skills Progression

The table below provides one suggestion for the progression of skills
and the ages at which each might be applicable

Recognise coloursYYYY
Find features within sight of the startYYYY
Understand spatial conceptsYYYY
Find features along a marked routeYYYY
Understand colours on a mapYYY
Recognise features within sight of the startYYY
With adult help - orient a mapYY
Understand symbols on a mapYY
Use linear features/handrails to navigateYY
Thumb the mapYY
Orient the map using a compassYY
Mark a course on a mapYY
Understand contoursY
Use attack pointsY
Aiming offY
Identify route choice optionsY
Walking a bearingY
Getting lost/relocatingY

Create your own site with Mobirise