Completing a daily classroom graphs helps students classify, analyze and interpret information in a fun and engaging way.
- Magnetic dry erase board
- Picture of each student
- Poster board
- Hot glue gun
- Dry erase markers
- Just Graph It
- Navigating through Data Analysis and Probability in Pre-kindergarten-Grade 2,
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, NCTM (Edited by Carole E. Greenes), ISBN
- Mathematics Their Way, by Mary Baratta-Lorton; ISBN 020186150X
- Lessons for Little Ones Mathematics Cooperative Learning Lessons, by Lorna Curran in
consultation with Dr. Spencer Kagan; ISBN I-879097-19-2
- Mother Goose Math, by Deborah Scnecter; ISBN: 0-439-15584-3
- Project Criss (Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies), by Carol M. Santa
H.D., Lynn T. Havens, Evelyn M. Maycumber; ISBN 0-7872-1121-4
- Picturing Math, by Carol Otis Hurst and Rebe Otis; ISBN 0-02-6873
- Annos Flea Market, by Mitsumasa Anno; ISBN 0-399-21031-8
- Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor; ISBN 0-684-13899-9
- Guess Who My Favorite Person Is, by Byrd Baylor; ISBN0-684-19514-3
- Hannahs Collections, by Marthe Jocelyn; ISBN 0-88776-690-0
- Just Graph It! By CTP Creative Teaching Press; ISBN 1-5747-375-2
- Charts and Graphs, by Wendy Clemson and David Clemson; ISBN 1-58728-342-5
- Tiger Math, by Ann Whitehead Nagda and Cindy Bickel; ISBN 0-8050-6248-3
Background for Teachers
Daily graphing activities include using a personal item that would
be of interest to children. The everyday activity of classifying, analyzing
and interpreting classifications and drawing conclusions are some of
the essential intellectual tasks that people perform. These lifetime skills
begin well before kindergarten. Graphing is an extension of a students
natural interest in sorting objects. It is a powerful tool that young
children can use to arrange information and establish order.
I have a math bulletin board in my room that is used strictly for
the graph of the day. On top of the board, I place the question for
the day. On the rim of the chalk tray below the bulletin board, I place
the categories for the graph. Each student has a square wood block
with their copied black and white picture that has been decorated
by the student. (The block also could be decorated and just have
their name on it) When the A.M. kindergarten students arrive in the
morning or the P.M. kindergarten students arrive in the afternoon,
they read the question on the board (or ask the teacher or a classmate
to read it) and place their block accordingly. This is just one way of
recording the data, using a wide assortment of materials and a variety
of organizational methods. This encourages flexible thinking and
enables the children to experience many different ways of arranging
information which are equally valid. During our calendar time, we
discuss our graphing using vocabulary like: how many, most, least, etc.
A teacher can ask graphing questions that correlate with the time of
year. For example: How do you get to school. (Bus, Walk, Car)
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
2. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
3. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Collecting data as the children arrive is a great attention getter.
Collecting data can be done in a variety of ways, using as many
different methods and materials as possible help build a lot of curiosity
and interest on a daily basis.
Before starting the class daily graph read the childrens book Just
Graph it! By CTP Creative Teaching Press. This is a fun short story
that is telling the children if there is something they want to know, just
- The classroom teacher will prepare the daily classroom graph in
Additional classroom graph suggestions:
- A large cake pan with a graph drawn on it or an 18 by 22
magnetic dry erase board. (Make sure it is the right kind of
pan that would work with a magnet.) Each child will be given
a jumbo clear accent gem. A small picture will be mod-podged
on the flat part of the gem. (This could be a picture of the
children or a symbol representing each class.) Then a small
heavy piece of poster board will be glued to the picture and a magnet will be hot glued to the poster board. The students
will graph their responses by putting their magnet under the
- One square block for each child or a stackable manipulative
that can be decorated and written on.
- Flat rectangular oil drip pan (for cars) approximately 3 x 5
(about 10 dollars at checkers).
- Clear contact paper
- Kerr canning lids (one for each student and the teacher)
- Colored construction paper (preferably a light color)
- Two rolls of stick on strip magnets or other magnets that have
a sticky back.
- Sentence strips
- Clear heavy plastic
- Colored masking tape
Cover the oil pan with the clear contact paper. Draw a simple
grid. Six rows going horizontally work great. Leave about three or
four inches open at one end to write in the answers to the questions.
If you leave the right end open, this allows 14 votes in any one row.
Cut circles to fit inside the lids. Prepare the Kerr lids by attaching the
magnets on the back. Have the children draw their faces and write their
name inside the bottom arch to make it special identification badge. (If
you have student pictures, these could be used instead.) Make a clear
slot by taping with colored masking tape around heavy-duty plastic,
leaving one end open for a sentence strip. When posting a graphing
question, write it on a sentence strip and slide it into the slot provided
at the top of the oil pan. The children will use the juice lid to place
their vote on the graph. On the bottom of the graph will be smaller
clear slots to put the categories in. You could write the category or
have a picture to represent the category.
- Each day as the students arrive they participate in the daily data
collection and graphing experience by adding to the class data.
- After each student has participated, the teacher leads a
discussion about the data collected. This could be a part of your
- Below is an extensive list of graphing questions
A. Two Group Graphs:
- Which do you like to color with? Crayons, markers
- Which milk do you like? White, chocolate
- Do you brush and floss? Brush only, brush & floss
- Which do you like best? Celery, carrot
- Are you left or right handed?
- Are you a boy or a girl?
- Where your hands clean or dirty when you came into the
- Did you wear a coat or a sweater?
- Do you like baths or showers?
- How did you feel about coming to school? Happy, sad
B. More than two groups:
- How did you get to school? Bus, walk, car
- How did you feel on the first day of school? Scared,
- How do you like your apples? Sliced, sauce, baked
- How do you fasten your shoes? Buckles, laces, Velcro
- Would you rather have a pet with ... Fur, Fins, Feathers
- What kind of Pizza do you like? Cheese, Pepperoni,
- Which soup do you like best? Chicken Noodle, Vegetable,
- What is you favorite meal? Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- How old are you? 5, 6, 7
- What is your favorite sport? Football, baseball, basketball
- What is your favorite dessert? Ice cream, cake, pie
- Which fast, food restaurant do you like best? Wendys,
Burger King, McDonalds
- How do you feel today? Happy, Mad, Sad
- What time did you go to bed last night? 8 oclock, 9
- How many televisions are in your house? 1, 2, 3, more
- Which holiday do you like best? Halloween, Thanksgiving,
April Fools day
- What do you like to receive for presents? Books, toys,
- What do you like best to write with? Pencil, crayon,
- What color is your hair? Brown, blonde, black
- What color are your eyes? Green, blue, brown
C. Yes or No Graph
- Do you have . . .
- A pet (could list any animal), own bedroom, blue eyes,
a van, a two-wheel bike, a cowboy hat, any brothers,
any sisters, hair longer than your shoulder (shorter than
shoulders), any brothers or sisters in this school (in
preschool, in high school), a middle name, buckles on
your shoes, a teddy bear, TV in you bedroom, a computer
at home, etc.
- Do you like . . .
Watermelon, broccoli, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal,
(could list any fruit or vegetables, or food), dogs (could
list any animal), to watch sports, to read, etc.
- Have you ever . . .
Been to Disneyland (list any popular place), been to a zoo,
been to a circus, been to the ocean, a farm, gone fishing,
ridden a horse, had chicken pox, had to wear a cast, taken
dancing lessons, piano lessons, been on a plane, been
on a beach, ridden a train, had to stay over night in the
hospital, ridden a buggy pulled by a horse, baked cookies,
mailed a letter, went to a different school, played the game
Sorry (could list any game), etc.
- Do you enjoy . . .
Riding a bike, playing ball (list any sport), going to school,
- Can you . . .
Ride a two-wheel bike, do flips, jump off the diving board,
skip a rope, do magic tricks, walk to school by yourself,
- Did you sleep well last night?
- Did you brush your teeth today?
Holiday, season, pizza, sport fruit, vegetable, meat, dessert,
movie, cookie, pie, juice, cereal, book, TV show, cartoon,
super hero, center, dinosaur, game, ice cream flavor, story
character, music, pet, toothpaste, transportation, etc. (When
you are doing favorites, narrow it down to three choices and
then make a class graph.)
- Do you have a real or artificial tree?
- Do you have a wreath on your door?
- Do you have Christmas lights outside your house?
- Have you hung up a stocking?
- Did you make a resolution for the New Year?
- Are you wearing green today?
- Do you have turkey for Thanksgiving?
- Do you eat dinner at home or away on Thanksgiving?
- What did you wear for Halloween?
- What type of Halloween candy do you like?
- Does your jacket have a hood?
- What do you wear to keep your hands warm? Mittens- gloves
- Month you were born in.
- Number of bedrooms in your house
- Number of brothers and sisters
- Number of letters in your first name
- Number of pets at home
- Number of pockets on your clothing
- Number of teeth lost
- Shirt: pattern or solid color
- Type of clothing worn that day: shorts, pants, t-shirt,
sweater, vest, etc.
- Types of job they would like to have when they grow up
- Although your class will have many worthwhile and enjoyable
experiences graphing the above ideas, the most valuable graphs
will be those that evolve spontaneously. For example: A
scissor graph showing scissors that cut well and a pair that
doesn't cut well might evolve during an art lesson. A glue graph
may also evolve during art showing glues that are working well
and those that are plugged or not working well.
- Use the above ideas as catalysts for other ideas. As you try these
activities, ask yourself, how else might I use this idea? What
other question could I ask in order to generate a similar graph?
How else could I organize this information?
- Instead of using their boxes the students could draw their own
pictures. How did you get to school? (They would draw a bus,
feet, or car on the bar graph.)
- Visual objects could be used on the graph:
- Two to three video movie boxes have the students graph their
- Provide two to three cookies and have the students graph their
- Provide two to three different juice cans and have the students
graph their favorite.
- Provide two to three different kinds of cereal and have the
students graph their favorite.
Other materials the students could use daily in their graphing:
A. If your graphing space is a dry erase board the students
could have their name or picture laminated and a magnet
backing could be put on each picture, or they could write
their name on the dry erase board under the category
B. You could have a graph taped on the floor in your
classroom and they could graph real objects. Are you
wearing boots or shoes? (They would each take off a
shoe and put it on the graph.) Are the soles of your shoes
smooth or bumpy (Once again they would take off a shoe
and put it on the graph.)
C. The graph could be a heavy cardboard and the children
could use clothespins with their name on. They would
graph by clipping the clothespin on the cardboard (In order to use this you would only be using a two group
D. For yes and no questions you could have the words
written in large block form and the students could write
their name inside the letters in the words.
E. The students could also use links. A hook is at the bottom
of the graph and the first student hooks their link on the
hook and the others link theirs on the link.
- Send home a grid of a graph. The student could graph windows,
doors, etc., and discuss their findings with their family. They
could then bring back the home connection graph and explain
their findings to the class or compare their findings with other
- Following class units you could send home a graph the family
could graph together. For example, after studying the four
seasons you could send home a graph, with the question:
what is your favorite season? This also serves as a wonderful
assessment of student understanding.
- The daily questions about the daily graph would be asked and
discussed. Sharing recordings and discussing the daily graph
allows students to formulate their thoughts using appropriate
vocabulary, and to clarify and extend their understanding. This
enables the teacher to assess what they know and can apply,
where they are in the process of learning, and what they still
- Assessment for the daily graphing could also come from the
various extensions done in class. For example, the teacher
might assess a students journal writing on the daily graph, or
assess how a child might transfer information from the class
graph onto an individual graph.
- Using key questions gives the teacher the opportunity to
observe and evaluate the students understanding.
Alex Bogomolny (1999). Cut the knot! Where to start? MAA online, the Mathematical
Association of America. Retrieved December 27, 2006, from www.maa.org/
Research findings from psychology indicate that learning does
not occur by passive absorption alone. Instead, in many situations,
individuals approach a new task with prior knowledge, assimilate new
information, and construct their own meanings.
Teachers need to create an environment that encourages children
to explore, develop, test, discuss, and apply ideas. They need to listen
carefully to children and to guide the development of their ideas.
Hurst C. O., and Otis R. (1996), Data gathering and analyzing, picturing math pre-
kindergarten through 2nd grade, chapter 1, sec.3. Retrieved December 30, 2006, from www.carolhurst.com/subjets/math/datagather.html.
Gathering data is a frequent part of solving problems and satisfying
curiosity. When we conduct surveys and draw conclusions from
them, we are gathering and analyzing data. This includes a lot of work
with graphs and leads to mathematical tools like averaging and other