Make Graphing Fun!

The first year that our school district implemented Common Core math, I kind of accidentally overlooked graphing. Whoops! I mean, really – my bad. I felt so bad for those kids that year. Here I was thinking that this Common Core thing was going to be much easier than predicted because I had done very well getting through it.

For the next school year, I didn’t want to rush through it or squeeze it in at the last minute. I wanted to provide some value to it. I sketched out a plan. (And that plan turned out to be one of my favorite and best units ever!)

Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!

First, we talked about collecting data. Each student created a question that they wanted to survey the class with, but they had to limit the answers to five choices. I didn’t want students to be creating graphs later that went on forever in categories! We circulated, we surveyed, we tallied. Then, we placed that data in a special place for later.

Teaching Graphing with Picture Graphs

Then, we went over the picture graphs (pictographs). Students had learned about this type of graphing in second grade, so it really was a refresher. I provided each student with a handful of gummy bears, and we created our key at the bottom, along with the actual picture graph. Then, we combined our data with a partner and created another picture graph, and lastly, one more time, we created a group of four. (That’s when we really needed to start talking about that key at the bottom and how it isn’t always going to represent one!)

Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!

Then, after practicing creating and reading picture graphs, I presented them with a challenge. Our principal was in desperate need of their help! He dropped off this data and asked our class if we could create a picture graph based off it. (This gave me a quick opportunity to see who could or couldn’t read tally marks!)

Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!

Teaching Graphing with Bar Graphs

We then moved into bar graphs and discussed how they are created, their parts, and how sometimes they are vertical and other times they are horizontal.

Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!
Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!

We “shot hoops” with trashketball and created bar graphs in both vertical and horizontal form. We also used magnets and picked up paper clips to create graphs. We continued to expand our discussion into the scale and how we needed to change our intervals. In third grade, that’s really the major difference in standards: making sure students are practicing with scales with intervals of two and five.

To brush up on reading and creating bar graphs, I created 10 different centers that I placed around the room. (I love these around the room activities because they get the kids up and moving!)  They then created a tabbed booklet and worked around the room from station to station. The students had a blast!

Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!
Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!

Teaching Graphing with Line Plots

Next came time to teach the line plots. Prior to our Graphing Workshop Unit, we had learned about the different parts of a ruler, along with partitioning a number line in the fraction unit. I used this as a great opportunity to tie it in and review.

To practice measuring to the nearest inch, we blew puff balls along our desks with straws (masking tape was our starting line) and then measured the distance they traveled. (This year we changed it to a medicine dropper and a smaller puff ball because the larger one went really far with a huge puff of wind from the student’s lungs!)

Did you know that one year, I forgot to teach graphing? Oops! In an effort to make up for that big mistake, I created an entire math workshop unit that works to make graphing fun for students. It includes pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots, and students have SO much fun with the activities included! Read this post to learn more!
I apologize for this picture quality!

We also measured each of our finger (and thumb) spans to the nearest quarter inch and plotted those! Then, we pretended to work for a jewelry store that needed to order a new shipment of rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Students rotated among each of the three stations (rings, bracelets, and necklaces), measured the strings (which was how the jeweler knew what size to order!), tallied them up, and created a nice line plot for the owner of the jewelry store.

Overall, the students had fun while learning all about graphing, and I made up for that year that I accidentally overlooked it, right? 🙂

(If you like these activities and want to save time creating them, you can find all this in my Graphing Workshop Unit. You don’t have to teach in the math workshop format to enjoy these activities!)

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