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
Plastic toy animals
Ask each child to choose a toy animal.
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.
Right handed or left handed
Do you like... apples or oranges; pizza with meat, without meat Smarties® or Lifesavers®; cereals, vegetables, soups etc.
Compare recently read books
Stories or non-fiction
Magazines or books
Which one of these colors do you like the best?
Which shade of yellow do you like the most?
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
My favorite stuffed animal is a...
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?
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.