Graphing is a great summer project to do with your kids that can involve the whole family and take place over time. Every summer, my family and I pick a few topics that we want to monitor and chart over an extended period of time. Then each child chooses how they want to represent the data and presents it at a graphing family night!
There are so many topics to choose from, and half the fun is coming up with the data to collect. As a family, brainstorm different ideas and formulate a list of topics. Here are some to help you get started:
Number of pages read each day
Number of shells collected at the beach
Number of family trips
Number of laps swam in pool
Number of dives off the diving board
Number of camp days
Favorite summer activities
Favorite summer sports
Favorite BBQ food
Favorite camp activity
Ways to get to camp
Depending on the age of each child, create a table so data can be collected daily, bi-weekly, or weekly. Try to create a routine for when the data will be filled out, in the morning or before bed. The great thing is that it is quick and easy but the responsibly should be put on the child(ren). Decide how the data will be collected. For numerical data, each child will most likely chart something he or she has done, but for categorical data they can ask others for their opinions. Bringing their table to camp or a family event is a great way to collect the data.
Once the data has been collected, each child (or family member) must decide how s/he will represent and graph the data. Older children might want to use the computer and input the data into Excel. Younger children might want to draw or color in a graph or use a physical representation (such as cheerios or pasta). Allowing them to be creative and come up with the graph on their own is the best experience.
At the end of the summer, we have a graphing family night for everyone to represent their graphs. Each child shows off their graph and has created questions for the rest of the family to answer. We talk about all the things we have done over the summer and what information we have learned from their graphs. It's always a big deal when you can make a party out of it!