Graphing Activities for Kids

As mentioned on the previous page, there are many opportunities to create graphs during the day. When young children learn to use graphs they not only learn to organize information, they have an opportunity to practice literacy and social skills. Simple graphs help children develop the skills of one-to-one correspondence counting, number recognition, and numbers and operations.

In the image below, the child is sorting lego blocks by the number of raised dots on each one (his idea!). Blocks with more than 5 dots are on one side and blocks with fewer than 5 dots are on the other.

Sample real graph activity

Materials:
Plastic toy animals
Graphing mat
Ask each child to choose a toy animal.

Activity:
Place an animal with 2 legs at the top of one column on the graphing mat.
Place an animal with 4 legs at the top of another column.
Place an animal with no legs at the top of the third column.

Have the children sit in two rows on either side of the graphing mat. Ask children to place their animals one at time under the correct heading. A bar graph is the result.

Sample graphing questions:

• Which column (teach vocabulary - column, row, fewer, same, different, more than, less than) has more animals?
• Which column has fewer animals?
• How many animals have no legs?
• How many animals have 2 legs?
• How many animals have 4 legs?
• How many animals all together?
• How many more animals are there with 4 legs than with 2 legs?

Ideas - what shall we graph?

Once you get the idea of how easy it is to graph, count, or tally items, the subject matter is endless. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. If possible have the real things present or pictures of them.

Body
Hair color
Eye color
Right handed or left handed

Food
Do you like... apples or oranges; pizza with meat, without meat Smarties® or Lifesavers®; cereals, vegetables, soups etc.

Books
Stories or non-fiction
Magazines or books

Colors
Which one of these colors do you like the best?
Which shade of yellow do you like the most?

Clothes
Do your pants have pockets or no pockets?
Do your shoes have Velcro® or no Velcro?
Is your shirt striped or plain?

Activities and Events
Do you like swimming or games?
Do you like daytime or nighttime
Do you like sunshine or rain
Do you like rain or snow
Do you like sunshine or snow
Do you like going to __ or ___ the best. Fill in with local restaurants.
Favorite holidays.. Easter or Christmas
How do I get to school? bike, walk, bus, car

Toys
My favorite stuffed animal is a...

Animals
I like dogs, cats, or fish the best
Toy animals - number of legs, horns or no horns
short and long tails, wild animals and farm animals, pond animals and animals that don't live in the pond Graph number of pets

Letters and numbers
How many letters in your name?
How old are you?
How many people in your family?

Teacher Tips

Competition - A few children perceive every activity as a competition and will proclaim, "My side won!" or "I won!" after each session. Continue to model the behavior you would like the children to have, in this case, an appreciation of graphs. This helps the children to see that graphing is not a competition, just a way to sort things and make it easier to understand information.

For example, with the animal example above, have the children choose an animal before they know that the graphing category is going to be numbers of animal legs. Have them graph their animal again using a different category - graph horns and no horns, hooves and no hooves, wild animals and not wild animals, short tails and not short tails.

Feeling Different - Young children may be easily upset if they are the only person whose results are on one side of a graph. E.g. Hair color - 6 kids with blonde hair, 5 kids with black hair, 8 kids with brown hair, one child with red hair. Be sensitive to the children in your class when choosing topics.

Friends - With graphs such as "Which book did you like the most?" - Some children want to change their answer if their friends' answers are different from theirs. Having each child put a marker or magnet under the category without their name on it usually solves this problem.

Go to Kindergarten-Lessons News to get your FREE printable student book, "Making Friends One Day at a Time".

Use the pages to complete the "Making Friends" unit in the Themes section.

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