How to teach about weather maps

Written by melissa gagnon
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How to teach about weather maps
Use maps of local areas when teaching weather so children can make connections to weather patterns in their area. (Sea maps series: Great Lakes image by Stasys Eidiejus from

The ability to read maps is an important skill for children. Recognising symbols and being able to correspond the symbols with their proper meaning is a skill that children will use over the course of their lifetime to get information from maps, charts and graphs. Teach children to recognise symbols on a weather map, understand their meaning and interpret the weather from this information by using large, colourful maps and interactive activities.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Chart paper
  • Large weather maps
  • Map worksheets
  • Crayons

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  1. 1

    Introduce the concept of weather to your students, and assess what they know by filling in a K-W-L chart as a whole group. Draw three columns onto large chart paper, labelling one "what I know," or K; the next "what I want to know," or W; and the last "what I learnt," or L.

  2. 2

    Ask the class what they already know about weather maps and symbols. Fill in the "what I know" column of the chart with what they tell you.

  3. 3

    Ask the children what they want to know about weather maps. Have them generate questions that they would be interested in learning about and fill in the "what I want to know" column with these questions. Sample questions include "what symbols are used for rain?" or "what colours signify cold temperatures?"

  4. 4

    Using a large weather map, point out the symbols that show snow, precipitation, hot and cold fronts, and clouds. Show them where the key is on the map and explain how to use the key to help read the symbols.

  5. 5

    Pass out printouts of a weather map that includes the symbols in the key. Have the students identify the different symbols in groups. For example, ask the children to circle in green any symbols that shows rainfall. Have them use a blue crayon to put a square around areas that are experiencing a cold front and an orange crayon for hot front areas.

  6. 6

    After the students have had a chance to look at the symbols and practice identifying them, assess their learning by providing them a map and key without the symbols labelled, and have the students label what each symbol stands for.

  7. 7

    Introduce the colours used to signify temperatures on weather maps by showing children a map shaded with average local temperatures for their area. Explain the Fahrenheit and Celsius scale, and have them practice shading in a blank map by providing them temperatures for nearby areas for that day.

  8. 8

    After teaching the weather unit, fill in the last column of the chart, having children share what they learnt. You can even have the children come up and draw the symbols and label them in this column.

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