Math Background

Graphing Data: Tips and Tricks

  • Discuss with children places such as supermarkets, libraries, and department stores, where objects are classified and organized into groups. Have them describe the attributes used to sort items in each of these places.
  • Allow children to use various means to record data including pictures, tallies, and numbers. Once they collect their data, guide them to record the data in a tally chart for easier organization.
  • Use attributes of the children as much as possible for data collection. Sort them by hair color, shirt color, or clothing color or type. Ask them questions about their favorite things such as foods, pets, vacations, and so on. This allows you to create many different charts and graphs in which the children have a high interest. You can also involve children in making picture graphs by making a grid on the floor with masking tape. Help children connect data in the grid to more symbolic ways of representing data by guiding them to use it to make a picture or bar graph.
  • Have children take home questions to ask family members. Have them share the data with the class in the form of a tally chart and either a picture graph or a bar graph.
  • Use tally charts to keep score when playing classroom games. This will help to reinforce the concept that one tally mark equals one point and will show the children other uses for tallies.
  • Create concrete graphs using actual objects such as crayons, buttons, pasta shapes, and so on. Provide children with a blank grid upon which to arrange the objects. Check that the items are equally spaced across all rows so that categories with larger items do not appear to have a greater number due to the length of their row.
  • Whenever possible, show data results in different forms. Seeing the same data represented in a tally chart, a picture graph, and a bar graph helps reinforce the relationship between each form of representation.
  • Show children examples of simple bar graphs and picture graphs from newspapers and magazines. In-school magazines geared to grade level are a good source of graphs and charts. Have children bring in examples as well.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 1