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Observe and Measure: How Weather Forms

Introducing weather can be a fun activity for students. Weather is something they encounter every day, but they may not be as familiar with it when measuring the weather across the country.


Science (Meteorology)


6th - 8th Grade

Lesson Objective

By the end of the lesson, students should understand how the weather is measured, including pressure, temperature, and precipitation. Students should also be able to interpret various symbols on a weather map.

Common Core Standard


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


  • 1 Blank map of the United States for each student
  • A large blank map (or a projected image) for you
  • Red and blue crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Pencil for additional data


Ask the students, "What are the ways to observe and measure weather?" Allow students to respond before moving on.

Tell the students, "We measure weather in the following ways:"

  • Air pressure is measured by a barometer
  • Temperature is measured by a thermometer
  • Precipitation (rain) is measured by a rain gauge


You may choose to complete this activity as a class, in groups, with partners, or individually. Instruct your students to do the following: 

Identify High and Low Pressure

"On your paper, we are going to create a key. First, we will start with the symbols for high and low pressure. These are easy ones, the symbol for high pressure is an "H," and for low pressure, it is an "L." Your "H" should be blue, and your "L" should be red. 

A high-pressure system will have clear skies and less precipitation, while a low-pressure system creates more wind and can even form significant storms like hurricanes and tornadoes."

Identify High and Low Temperatures

"Ok, next, I want us to talk about high and low temperatures. Let's look at today's weather. (Pull up local weather from or another reputable source). Who can tell me what this number represents?" (Wait for response). 

"That is right, that is our high temperature for today in (location). This is the highest the temperature is expected to get to today. What about the low number? (Wait for response). Exactly! The low number is our expected low temperature for the day."

"Please add the low and high temperature to (location)."

Identify Precipitation

"Next, we see a Sun (or whatever the weather in your area is that day). What does that tell us? (Wait for response). Right! Today, we are expected to have (no) precipitation."

"Ok, let's take this opportunity to fill in our part of the map. Who can show me where (location) is on this map? Great!" (Model for students).

Conclude Activity

Repeat this activity for major cities across the United States, focusing on high and low-pressure areas. Try to include a city in each area of the US:

  • Northwest
  • West Coast
  • Southwest
  • Central
  • Great Lakes
  • East Coast
  • Southeast

Once students have filled out their maps, alone or with a partner, provide them with a list of questions relating to the map. Some potential questions to ask include:

  • Which city will have the warmest weather today? 
  • Which city is most likely to experience precipitation today? 
  • In your opinion, when is the weather better, on a high-pressure day or a low-pressure day?


Following the lesson, assign the following questions for homework:

  1. What are the three ways that you can measure weather?
  2. What is a high-pressure system (and what is the symbol)?
  3. What is a low-pressure system (and what is the symbol)?
  4. Are you more likely to experience precipitation in a high-pressure or low-pressure system?

Gathering this information will allow students time to prove their knowledge while it enables you to gauge their understanding of the topic. You may need or want to repeat the activity with other cities adding new ways to observe and measure weather.

If You Have Extra Time

  • Consider asking students to give a presentation with their map as if they were a meteorologist on the news. This can get students more comfortable with their new vocabulary and symbols.
  • Once students have an understanding of measuring weather, have fun with it! Ask students to report the weather for their favorite locations, but each location must be fake. For example, what is the weather like near Hogwarts? Near the Hobbit Shire? Or on the Star Wars planet Hoth? 

Written by David L. Anderson
Education World Contributor
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