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Download and take this game, and help your kids learn map symbols

Map Symbol Bingo (free download)

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Aug 2014; updated May 2023.

Map Symbol Bingo is a great way to teach your kids map symbols. Download our free game here. There are three levels of difficulty, so not just for kids!

Here's a fun little game to play as a family (or as a school class, scout group, or even a walker's group) to help learn and test your knowledge of the Ordnance Survey map symbols.

One of the best skills to learn when exploring the outdoors is to easily relate what you see on the map with what is in front of you.

Yes, a compass is useful (at least in getting the map oriented the right way), but recognising the shapes of the hills and landmarks such as churches, and these days, radio masts or wind farms, can help you pinpoint where you are when your electronic gadgets are of no use.

Fortunately, in the UK, we have excellent maps thanks to the Ordnance Survey. Many of their map symbols are self-explanatory (our 5-year-old did amazingly well), but a few symbols are not immediately recognisable.

Here's a fun little game to help your family learn some of those map symbols. It's called Map Symbol Bingo.

How to play Map Symbol Bingo

If you are used to regular bingo, Map Symbol Bingo is very similar but with a slight twist.

Instead of the caller reading out numbers, they read out map symbols. For example, 'Telephone', 'Radio Mast', or 'Church with tower'.

You can cut out the caller cards, place them in a hat or bag, and pull them out randomly.

Players have sheets with rows of map symbols.

If a symbol is called out that they recognise, they cross it off.

You can either play lines (when someone has crossed off an entire line), or you can play for a full house (when the whole sheet is crossed off).

Start Easy, Work to Advanced

An Entry Level players card

An Entry Level player's card

We've created three levels of difficulty: Entry Level, Intermediate Level, and Advanced Level.

Start with the Entry Level caller sheet and player cards if you have young kids.

Are you finding that too easy? Cut out the Intermediate Level caller's cards, add to the Entry Level caller's cards, and switch to the Intermediate Level player's cards. These have a mix of Entry-Level symbols plus a few more difficult ones.

Entry Level with Intermediate

Entry Level with Intermediate bingo cards

Are you an expert? Try the Advanced Level and see how well you do. Careful, there are a few ones in there to catch you out 😉

Please note the map symbols © Ordnance Survey, reproduced with their permission.

Taking the learning further

When your kids have learnt a few map symbols, why not see how they do with a real map.

You can print maps at home with OS Maps and see if your kids can spot the symbols they know. After that, why not tackle contour lines and teach them how to read a map.

And another download...