Abstract We investigated age-related spatial orientation performance and the influence of method of assessment in 153 children aged 5, 7 and 11 years with a pointing task. Children were taken on a landmark learning tour and then asked to indicate the location of the landmarks by pointing in the correct direction. Half of the children in each age-group made bearing estimations from a stationary position with a compass-like device, while the other half of the children pointed with their index finger and their outstretched arm, turning the whole body towards the pointed direction. When all data were pooled, a significant interaction effect of age by method of assessment emerged, showing that even preschoolers can make exact bearing estimations and have a good spatial knowledge when pointing with their finger. The differences in the two methods are discussed in the context of load factors and relational demands.