Weather Map Symbol Bingo

Super Value Game


Meteorologists use thousands of pieces of data to compile a regional or national view of weather conditions. To conserve space, symbols are used on weather maps to represent wind, air pressure, precipitation, cloud cover, etc. at specific locations. Learning the symbols on a weather map allows for a better understanding of weather and the science of weather forecasting.


  • Weather map
  • Map symbols
  • Interpreting data


Meteorologists use a station model to represent all the pertinent weather data at one location for a short period of time. Hundreds or thousands of these station models are compiled and compared together to describe the overall weather conditions for a much larger area. These conditions can then be analyzed and a forecast made. Figure 1 shows a simplified station model. More detailed station models may also include high and middle cloud types (at the 12:00 position), low cloud types (at the 6:00 position), visibility in miles (to the left of present weather), and change in barometric pressure in the past 3 hours (3:00 position).

{12831_Background_Figure_1_Sample station model}


Bingo chips, 750*
Scissors or paper cutter
Small containers for chips (optional)
Weather Map Symbol Bingo Cards, 30*
Weather Map Symbol Drawing Cards sheets, 2*
*Materials included in kit. 

Prelab Preparation

  1. Obtain the Weather Map Symbol Drawing Cards sheets.
  2. Using scissors or a paper cutter, cut along the solid lines to make 48 individual Weather Map Symbol Drawing Cards.
  3. Photocopy enough Weather Map Symbols sheets and the Weather Map Symbol Worksheet for each student.


  1. Distribute one Weather Map Symbol Bingo Card to each student along with the Weather Map Symbols Sheet, if desired.
  2. Distribute 20–25 bingo chips to each student. Small containers such as paper cups may be helpful for distributing and holding the chips.
  3. Play Weather Map Symbol Bingo following a standard fashion with students placing a bingo chip on any square that represents the map symbol being described (do not show students the picture on the card drawn). Randomly select a drawing card and announce the next potential square to be covered. Set aside each drawing card as it is called for later verification of any winning bingo card.
  4. Students must match the symbol to the exact description. For example, the symbol for drizzle looks like a comma. If light drizzle were called, then students would look for a square with two commas. If slight drizzle were called, then only the square with one comma may be covered.
  5. “Bingo” is achieved by covering five squares in a row (or four squares plus the free space in the center and diagonal rows). The row may be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
  6. Remind students to leave their bingo chips in place once a bingo is called until the win has been verified by the teacher. The potential winner should describe each symbol from the covered row.
  7. If the win is not verified, then the play continues until a win is achieved. If the win is verified, students clear their cards of all chips and begin again.
  8. After playing the bingo game, instruct students to complete the Weather Map Symbol Worksheet.

Student Worksheet PDF



Teacher Tips

  • This kit contains enough materials for 30 students playing individually. Several rounds may be played in one 50-minute class period.
  • Students should be familiar with weather conditions, such as cloud types, atmospheric pressure and types of fronts.
  • Standard air pressure at sea level is 1013.2 mb. Worldwide, air pressure usually ranges from 970 to1040 mb. To conserve space, station models drop the beginning 9 or 10 and include the tens, ones and tenths place without a decimal. Therefore, recordings that begin with 0xx to 4xx would usually be 100x.x to 104x.x and recordings beginning with 6xx to 9xx would be 96x.x to 99x.x. Extreme weather can create unusual highs and lows, which is why one must look at data over a large area to determine weather conditions. The record high pressure on Earth of 1083.8 mb was recorded in Siberia in 1968. In 1979 a U.S. Air Force Reconnaissance plane flew into Typhoon Tip in the Pacific and recorded an astonishingly record low of 870 mb!
  • Allow students to trade cards after each round so they may become familiar with more symbols.
  • Precipitation is represented in the following manner: slight—one symbol, light—two symbols, moderate—three symbols, and heavy—four symbols. For a complete list of weather map symbols, visit the National Weather Service website listed in the Reference section.
  • The Meteorology Activity Lab Manual, available from Flinn Scientific (Catalog No. AP6537), has several lessons on station models, weather maps and many other weather-related topics.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
HS-ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Crosscutting Concepts

Systems and system models

Answers to Questions

  1. Using the station model at the right, interpret the data and fill in the information listed. Include units where applicable.
    1. Amount of cloud cover: 100%
    2. Wind direction: Southeast
    3. Wind speed: 15 knots
    4. Air temperature: 95 °F
    5. Dew point temperature: 87 °F
    6. Present weather: thunderstorm
    7. Precipitation in last 6 hours: 1.8 inches
    8. Barometric pressure: 1010.3 mb


McArdle, H. Meteorology Activity Lab Manual; Flinn Scientific: Batavia, IL; 2004.

National Weather Service. JetStream—Online School for Weather. (accessed July 2009).

Next Generation Science Standards and NGSS are registered trademarks of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.