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Graphing Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

Why are graphing activities important?

Graphing activities for preschool and kindergarten include collecting data and organizing it in a variety of ways.

When children walk around the classroom and ask their friends which cereal they prefer, put a tally mark under the cereal picture, and count how many tally marks are in each column, they are not only graphing but also working with statistics or data analysis.

There are lots of fun things to do in this area of math and the activities integrate well with science and literacy concepts.

graphing activities

In the cereal image the child has cut pictures out of a grocery ad and glued them on his tally sheet, then walked around the classroom asking his friends which cereal they liked the most.

Statistics, probability and graphing activities - what do children need to know?

Children should have experiences:

  • collecting information
  • counting and making tallies
  • surveying peers
  • sorting objects
  • making graphs with real things and making picture graphs
  • reading graphs
  • making observations from a graph
  • working with tally marks and comparing their results with a friend's results
  • asking questions about graph results
  • using the terms "never, sometimes, always"
graphing in kindergarten

Graphing Mat Ideas

Make your own...

A plain, heavy vinyl picnic table cover makes a good mat for graphing larger items.

Strips of colored hockey tape make the grids. Usually 3 columns and 12 rows are enough.

Commercial Mats

kindergarten graphing activities

Commercial mats (see ad on right column) come in durable vinyl and feature a blue 3 x 10 array on one side and a red 4 x 12 array on the reverse. They provide a way to graph, count, sort, and compare real objects or pictures.

Using Pocket Charts

As seen in the image on the right, small items and pictures can be easily graphed in pocket charts.

The children can insert their name cards in the pocket charts or a colored block matching the color in the top row.

Pocket charts are also great for creating graphs with small real objects, such as graphing favorite toy cars or favorite colored smartie.

chalkboard graphs

Magnetic chalk boards for graphing activities

Magnetic chalkboards make it easy to create spontaneous graphs. Draw 2 pictures on the board, draw a line between them and have children place a small fridge magnet under their favorite category.

In the image on the left, book jackets are clipped to the magnetic chalkboard. Then the children have placed their magnet under their favorite book. Book covers can be photocopied.

Children can then count how many in each row and compare the amounts.

Introducing Graphs

Graphing is taught in three stages:

Stage 1 - Begin by placing real things on a graphing mat or in a pocket chart
Stage 2 - Introduce pictorial graphs - place pictures that represent the real objects on a graph
Stage 3 - Symbolic graphs - using words, numbers or symbols to represent the data collected

Graphing activities are fun to do in class and there are endless things to graph throughout the year. Themes, holidays and everyday items all provide ideas for things to compare or sort.

Benefits of teaching with graphing activities

  • Graphs make counting and comparing meaningful
  • Graphs provide opportunities to bring numbers, letters, letter sounds and other literacy skills to the children's attention
  • Graphing activities in the early grades are generally limited to real and pictorial graphs.

Go from graphing activities to "What can we graph?"

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