Introduction: Cardinal Direction Mnemonics With 3rd Graders

This activity is a way for students to create their own pneumonic to help them remember the cardinal directions. Each student will create a visual representation of the pneumonic they come up with, and it will make the order of the directions North, East, South, and West more meaningful to them. 

Core Content Standard: SS.3.3.3 2007. The World in Spatial Terms: “...Identify the cardinal directions...”


1. Show a compass to the students with North, East, South, and West labeled. Explain how these are called the cardinal directions.

2. Next show the students how they are said by going around the compass in a clockwise manner.

3. Demonstrate how there are ways to remember these directions with mnemonic devices.

4. Say the phrase “Never Eat Soggy Waffles” and show the image representation.
    -Book written by Patricia J. Murphy. Image retrieved from her blog.

5. Have students brainstorm other mnemonic devices to help them remember in their own way.

6. Have students share their ideas with the person sitting next to them, and have a few share with the class.

7. Have students each come up with their own saying using the same framework. They should:
         -Make a visual representation of it.
         -Include the compass somewhere in the drawing.
           Instead of writing the actual cardinal directions in their correct spots, they should write the new words they came up with.


-It will teach students to make tricks to help them remember information.

-It will help students relate the info to themselves so it is more meaningful.

-The students will also be working on their vocabulary and making connections. 

-They are also working on creativity.

-They are also working on neatness and craftsmanship.

Tips & Tricks

*For students who are slower with language development, work through each word slowly with them. Scaffold as necessary.

*Bring a list of pre-thought up words that students could use in case they get stuck.

*Bring extra art materials in case students do not have enough materials of their own.

*Leave a picture of the compass up on the board for them to reference while they work.

*Provide a handout with an image of a compass, the soggy waffles image, and a mini list of pre-thought up words for the students to take home and reference while they work in the future.

Step 1: Gather All Materials Needed.

Materials & Supplies

-Blank Paper
-Pencils & Erasers
-Colored Pencils
-Washable Markers

Step 2: Write Your Own Mnemonic

Start creating the visual representation by having the student write his or her own mnemonic in big letters on the paper. 

Step 3: Draw the Visual Representation

Turn the mnemonic into an actual visual image! 

Step 4: Add the Compass

Add an image of a compass into the visual representation. Instead of putting North, East, South, and West have the student put the corresponding words from their own mnemonic in the correct spots. 

Step 5: Add Color!

Add color to the image!