Graphing with Young Kids - MetroFamily Magazine
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Graphing with Young Kids

by Jennifer Geary

Reading Time: 2 minutes 


I mentioned a few weeks ago that we are working on number recognition with our four year old. I’ve been counting for a good 30+ years now, so sometimes this gets a bit tedious, but even though my eyes are crossing, I know the practice is still good for her. Lately we have started making some bar graphs, which she thinks is really fun. I’m enjoying it because it gives her counting practice in a new way as well as introducing her to the concept of graphs, which is something very useful in real life.

Our first bar graph was on the parts of a pumpkin. I came across this great (and free!) printable at Lil’ Country Kindergarten and decided we’d give it a try. My daughter isn’t really into games much, but she loved spinning to see which piece she’d land on next.  When she was the first one to get ten spins for a single part of the pumpkin she was so excited and she loved telling her dad all about it when he got home from work that night.

The next bar graph we made was a little bit bigger. I asked friends on Facebook to tell us their favorite kind of pumpkin dessert.  Over 50 people answered, so we used a posterboard to make the graph. I drew the grids and she counted up to the right spot and filled in all the boxes with Do A Dot markers. We talked a little bit about how if 100 people had answered the question we might not have been able to fit it on our paper, and what we could do in that situation, but right now she’s definitely not ready to go past the 1 box = 1 vote stage—and that’s okay! This has been a fun and easy way to introduce a new concept while still getting some practice with numbers and counting.

If you’re thinking about trying out graphs with your little one, a bar graph is probably the easiest place to start.  It’s pretty easy to see that the biggest bar is the highest/most popular/whatever you’re measuring and there’s no need to go much farther than that at first.  Bar graphs are also easy to tie into whatever you’re studying in other subjects, like we did with our pumpkin unit. You could graph how much of each type of candy your kids got last night or which Christmas song is the most popular among your friends and family. 

Have a good time with it and help your kids see that math can be fun!

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