How to Teach Children the Cardinal Directions

Early geography education involves teaching children spatial awareness.


One of the most fundamental orientation skills involves understanding the cardinal directions.  Cardinal directions are the four main points of a compass and are: north, east, south, and west.  Teaching children (or anybody that wants to learn cardinal directions) can be made easy through to use of mnemonics.

What is a Mnemonic?

A mnemonic is a strategy of making memorization easier through the use of letters, words, or ideas.

Teaching Geography with a Mnemonic

To learn the cardinal directions and the order in which they appear on a compass, the following mnemonic is effective.  The silliness of the saying and the use of simple words makes this mnemonic easy for children to memorize.

The mnemonic is “Never Eat Soggy Waffles.” The first letter of each word is the same as the cardinal direction that it represents.  The order of the words mimics the order in which the cardinal directions appear on a compass: North, South, East, and West.