With weather apps on phones and tablets and 24-hour weather updates on TV, children can be surrounded by information about the weather. Unfortunately, when a child doesn’t understand how to read a weather map, all of that information is lost. Teaching children how to read weather maps gives them more understanding of how weather works in their lives. The good news is teaching children about maps is easy. Your child can turn into an amateur meteorologist with just a little help.
Go to the National Weather Service website. The National Weather Service is now part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA offers a series of weather maps with map keys. These are radar, warning and forecasting maps. Print several maps and explore the different ways weather is illustrated on the maps.
Print the list of weather symbols from the American Meteorological Society.
Show the maps to the child. With the child, explore how the symbols on the map indicate pressure systems, temperature and precipitation. Talk with the child about where weather comes from. Show the child the temperature change behind high and low pressure areas. Discuss that where high pressure and low pressure areas meet, storms usually follow.
Check with your local airport or online to gather data such as wind speed and barometric pressure.
Print off a separate map of your state. Plug your zip code into the search bar for a local forecast. NOAA will give you the forecast and satellite and radar maps. Referring to the list from the AMS, decide where high and low pressure systems are. Where the weather is clear and sunny, draw lines indicating high pressure. Where storms exist, draw lines indicating a low pressure front. Together, draw weather patterns on the map. Add the approximate temperatures that NOAA predicts. Ask the child to draw a weather symbol key at the bottom of the map.
Watch the local weather forecast together. Compare the map the child drew with the map on the newscast. Discuss how weather patterns are predictions and sometimes those predictions are wrong.
Cut out weather maps from your local newspaper and tape them into a notebook. If the predictions were accurate, circle the map in green. If they were wrong, circle the map in red. After a few weeks, look at how many times the forecasters were correct.
Items you will need
- Internet connection
- Red and green pens
- Point out weather maps wherever you find them. Newspapers, TV and phone apps all give you the opportunity to make the child aware of forecasting tools. The more the child uses these tools, the more comfortable she will be with weather maps.
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