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 activities.
When children are making guesses about what might happen in different situations, they are learning about probability. The more experiences they have with concrete objects the more accurate their guesses will be.
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?
The 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"
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. If you prefer, commercial mats like the one in the image are available.
Commercial mats 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.
As seen in the image on the left, small items and pictures can be easily graphed in pocket charts.
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 this picture book jackets are clipped to the chalkboard and the children have placed their magnet under their favorite book. Book covers can be photocopied.
Starting out with Graphs
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.
Graphs make counting and comparing meaningful and 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.
Graphing is taught in three steps:
- Begin by placing real things on a graphing mat or in a pocket chart
- Next, introduce pictorial graphs - place pictures that represent the real objects on a graph
- Symbolic graphs - use words and numbers to represent the data collected