You'll find out just how easy it is to make a simple compass with my guest contributor today! Annie from Bird and Little Bird shares a compass tutorial to go along with one of her favorite children's books, The Eagle!
Every so often I come across a piece of children’s literature that so endears itself to me, that I can’t imagine letting my daughter grow up without experiencing the magic of it herself. This is certainly the case with The Lighthouse Family series by the singularly talented Cynthia Rylant. My daughter and I have loved Cynthia Rylant through a number of her other series, including the Poppleton books, Henry and Mudge, and of course, Mr. Putter and Tabby. But the Lighthouse Family books have a quality about them that is incomparable; they have become a family favorite that I know will be read again and again.
The Lighthouse Family books feature an unlikely family, brought together by circumstance, rather than biology. A lonely cat, living alone as a lighthouse keeper, finds an injured dog shipwrecked on her shore after a terrible storm. The dog plans to stay on at the lighthouse, healing his wounds and repairing his ship, but the unexpected arrival of a trio of orphaned young mice changes his plans, and suddenly a family is made. Rylant’s beautiful treatment of the subject of family has made the Lighthouse Family books particularly popular with families formed through adoption; the books represent a family that was destined to belong to one another, even if the circumstances of their coming together were unusual. I myself am adopted, and have found the books to be a great way to help my daughter think about how I came to be raised by her grandparents.
The Lighthouse Family series is made up of five books, the first chronicling the coming together of the family, and the other four sharing the family’s adventures as they meet various other animals who pass by their home. Rylant’s writing has a soft, flowing quality to it, and the stories themselves are sweet without being sappy. The narratives are full of a sense of wonder, and children who are sensitive to the stress of dramatic tension in stories will find that these stories contain adventure, but with a feeling of comfortable certainty that a happy ending is on the way.
Now, a little something for you to make in the spirit of these wonderful reads! In The Eagle, the third book in the series, two of the mice children set off on an exploration of the woods near the lighthouse. They are given their first compass as a means of finding their way home, and this piece of the story got my daughter and I thinking about compasses and how very cool it is that, well, they actually work!
We set out to make a basic compass ourselves, and this is how we did it:
two small pieces of sponge or cork
marker or small stickers
Take the needle and rub it along the magnet, moving from the eye of the needle to the point. Do this thirty times or so, always moving in the same direction.
Hold the needle up to the straight pin. If the needle has been magnetized, it should pick up the straight pin. If it doesn’t, return to step one and try again.
Put a small piece of cork or sponge at each end of the needle.
Float the needle with corked ends in a small bowl of water. Make sure that it stays towards the middle of the bowl so that the needle can turn freely. After a short time, the needle should turn so that one end points north. If you move the needle, it should turn again so that the same piece of cork points in the same direction. We then marked this piece of cork with a couple of small stickers to symbolize “North!” A waterproof marker or pen would also work well for this.
And really, that’s it. A fun companion activity to The Eagle, as well as a very easy and satisfying project that can quickly become a jumping off point for further scientific explorations. Enjoy!
Annie Riechmann is a full-time multi-tasker, part-time teacher and librarian in training who blogs about creativity, parenting, cupcakes and inclement weather conditions at Bird and Little Bird.
She is also the creator of Alphabet Glue, a quarterly downloadable magazine for families who love books! Filled with activities, printables, projects and plenty of inspiration, Alphabet Glue was created in hopes of helping more families to incorporate creativity, imagination and all things literary into their everyday routines.
I barely finished reading this tutorial at Gingerbread Snowflakes before I had gathered my empty jars and Mod Podge and made some of my own! Of course, kids will love it too ;) These make lovely lanterns for springtime while giving a new life to glass jars, a great recycling project for everyone.