Play a carnival-style game to gather data for a table. Divide a sentence strip into four sections. Write the headings “Team,” “Small,” “Mid-size,” and “Large” from left to right in the sections and then display the strip. Next, form three teams. Have each team prepare a four-section sentence strip, and write the team name in the left section. Then set up three cardboard boxes at one end of the classroom. Tape a line on the floor 10 feet away from each one. Students take turns tossing a small foam ball into their team’s box and keeping count of the “hits.” After 25 tosses, the teams write the number of hits in the second section on their sentence strip. Repeat the activity using a mid-size and then large foam ball, and have teams record the results in the next two sections. To make the table, the teams attach their sentence strips below the heading strip. Have students use the table to compare and discuss results.
Challenge: Convert results for the large and small ball tosses into a double-bar graph.
Soda-Bottle Bar Graphs
Use sand-filled soda bottles to make a 3-D graph. Collect a class quantity of 16-ounce lidded plastic soda bottles, all of similar size and shape. Ask students to count the buttons on their clothing, record the results on a sticky note with their name, and stick the note to a bottle. Have them measure and pour 1/4 cup of sand into their bottle for each button. After lidding their bottles, help students make a bar graph by grouping and lining up the bottles by the number of buttons. Discuss the results. Then have them create another graph by grouping the bottles in button-count ranges of 0–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9 or more buttons. After discussing this graph, invite students to arrange the bottles in other ways to show different types of data, such as the button counts of boys compared to that of girls.
Challenge: Create a table to display the number of boys versus girls with button counts that fall in the ranges shown above. Then ask kids what else they can graph using your soda-bottle system.
Legends and Life-Size Graphs
Make a human graph showing favorite holiday activities. On five large index cards write “Shopping,” “Decorating,” “Wrapping gifts,” “Watching holiday shows,” or “Something else.” Use a different colored marker to draw a line across the top of each card. Then tape five parallel lines on the floor, taping at one end of each line a sheet of construction paper to match the color on one of the cards. To create a legend, write on the chalkboard “What is your favorite holiday activity?” and display the cards under the question. Have students read and respond to the legend by standing on the color line that represents their preference. Ask the students on each line to count off and record the final number next to the corresponding card on the board. Then have students use the results to create a color bar graph (horizontal or vertical). For additional practice, repeat the activity using different topics and preferences.
Challenge: Have small groups create legends to use in the activity.
Nutrition Comparison Graph
Read the Nutrition Facts panel on a box of Fruit Loops and make a comparison graph. Ask students to bring in empty boxes of their favorite cereal. Then group children according to their cereal preferences. Have two groups at a time read the Nutrition Facts panel to find the grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein per serving of cereal. Work with students to create a double-bar graph to show how these nutritional values compare for the two cereals. Later, have students graph and compare the percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C that a serving of cereal provides. Make similar comparisons using canned vegetables.
Challenge: Organize the nutrition facts for all the cereal brands into a single table. Connect the lesson to health class and discuss what the table reveals.
Thanksgiving Dinner Pie Chart
Make a pie chart revealing where students will enjoy their Thanksgiving meals. To begin, label five empty tissue boxes with “My home,” “Relative’s home,” “Friend’s home,” “Restaurant,” or “Somewhere else.” Place the boxes and a basketful of paper slips at the beginning of the lunch line. Add a sign asking students to deposit a slip of paper into the box that represents where they will have Thanksgiving dinner. After lunch, ask your class to count and record the number of paper slips in each box, add the total number of slips, and then calculate the percent of the total in each box. Make sure the sum of all the percentages is 100% (some answers may need to be rounded). Finally, have students create and label a colorful pie chart to show the results. Help them estimate the size each sector should be. Invite students to use the chart to discuss where schoolmates have their holiday meal.
Challenge: Create a bar graph from the same data. Compare the graph and pie chart.
Cans for Charity Line Graph
Graph the results of acanned-food drive for charity.Turn a charitable collection into a graphing lesson. First, work with students to develop the collection cause, the procedure, and the length of time to hold the collection (preferably over several weeks). When the collection is underway, ask students to count the number of canned goods brought in each day. Have them record the results on a chart next to the day’s date. At the end of the collection period, help students create a graph to show the number of cans collected daily over the entire collection period.
Challenge: Try graphing different types of foods. Or make a separate graph for each collection week. Find the mean and median number of cans collected each week.