Grade Levels: 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-8, students play Wind Simulator, a game that challenges them to investigate how high- and low pressure systems affect the speed and direction of wind.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Discover that wind has direction and speed that travels from high- to low- pressure systems.
  2. Explore how the interaction between high- and low pressure systems affect the speed and direction of wind.
  3. Simulate given weather and wind patterns, understanding that wind has direction and speed.
  4. Investigate how pressure systems affect weather conditions.
  5. Draw conclusions of wind speed and direction based on observations.


  • Computers or other devices with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Balloon


This lesson plan features a game called Wind Simulator developed by our partner,  Field Day Lab. The game is a simulation that encourages and supports students exploration of the effect pressure systems have on the direction and speed of wind.  

Preview and play Wind Simulator  to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be playing in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

For ideas on how to use SnapThought with this game, read Wind Simulator: SnapThought Prompts for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play.

Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:

  • 1:1 with students and devices
  • Two to three students sharing one device and swapping ideas and the device back and forth
  • Station model where small groups rotate through using the devices

Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP movies:  Wind, Weather, Temperature, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Begin by asking students what they already know about wind. Here are a few discussion starters that will help you assess prior knowledge.
    • What is wind?
    • Where does wind come from?
    • What causes wind?
    • Where are places you’ve been that are very windy? Why do you think those places are windy?
    • Why is wind sometimes strong and other times weak?
  2. Build students knowledge by showing the BrainPOP movie Wind to the whole class on the whiteboard or other display. Pause the movie as needed when Tim explains the concept of a low pressure system (beginning at time code 00:40).
  3. Next, model a high pressure system by inflating a balloon halfway and tying it off. On a table, press down gently on the balloon. Explain to students that a high pressure system works just like the air in the balloon -- air currents are deflected off, or skirt around, not allowing moisture or wind within.
  4. Display the comic at the beginning of the game Wind Simulator on the whiteboard. Invite a volunteer to read it aloud. Ask the class, “What is the difference between Scout and Honey’s building strategies?” and “What evidence does Scout have of wind direction?”
  5. Tell students that today they will play Wind Simulator, a game that challenges them to experiment with high- and low pressure systems to observe how each affects wind and weather conditions.  Open the game on the whiteboard (skipping past the comic), and point out that just like in real weather maps, the H stands for high pressure system and L for low pressure. You may want to show a real weather map as an example.
  6. Play through the tutorial level and the first three levels as a whole class, inviting students to come up and experiment with dragging the H’s and L’s, as well as the flags (which appear after the tutorial level). Ask student what they think the particles represent, and have them explain how they know where to place the flags. Bring up the concept of a weathervane (show an image if students are not familiar with the them) and ask why it might be useful to know which direction the wind is blowing.
  7. Divide the class into pairs (alternatively, they can work independently or in small groups), and allow for 15 minutes of play. If playing in pairs or small groups, encourage students to explain their reasoning or logic for how they move the arrow. If the arrow doesn’t respond as they anticipate, prompt them to discuss with each other what may have happened and why, as well as what they will try next.
  8. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots during game play, and reflect on their discoveries. For suggested prompts, see Wind Simulator: SnapThought Prompts.
  9. Bring the class together to discuss what they learned about wind, and to share their observations from playing the game. Mention other weather conditions, such as tornadoes and hurricanes (if time allows, you may choose to watch the BrainPOP movies on one or both of these topics), and ask students how meteorologists use high- and low pressure systems to predict weather conditions, and why using these systems is valuable.

Extension Activities:

  • Help students construct a wind vane. Then have them compare wind direction with that on a weather app. Do they correlate?  From what direction do they predict coming weather conditions?
  • Have students research basic characteristics of tornadoes, including how they are rated, and how engineers take tornadoes into account as they build new structures.