At their most basic definition, graphs are visual representations of important data. Included within the major discipline of math known as data analysis and probability, graphing can be taught to children as a basic and linear method of organizing specific information in a clear, easy-to-understand, and interpretable way.
Graphs are an integral part of everyday life and are seen in use by businesses, government, newspapers, and magazines all across the globe. The widespread use of graphs is due to a graph’s ability to convey critically important information in a highly visual fashion that makes it easy to understand, translate, and extrapolate the importance and meaning from the data and various entries.
Graphs aren’t limited to use by adults, corporations, and other big entities. Graphs are also a fundamentally important part of early childhood education and are an essential component in the teaching and instruction of mathematics concepts. Through graphs, teachers are able to introduce broad or complicated mathematical concepts in an easy-to-grasp way for children. Through the use of color and decorative shapes, graphs can be fashioned to not only express important numerical information but also be used to sharpen focus for students and to create stimulating visuals that will help to keep them on track and paying attention to the board.
By using interesting worksheets, young children can enjoy constructing their own graphs will small sets of data points that they can count and compare as they work in a hands-on fashion in constructing the graph, interpreting the numbers, and making judgment calls about where to place numbers on the graph. This kind of all-in-one activity serves to reinforce mathematical learning while also promoting the strengthening of fine motor skills, and critical thinking, along with cognitive skills.
The importance of using graphs in early childhood education cannot be stressed enough. The use of graphs provides young children with important and pertinent education about mathematics while also reinforcing skills that be extremely helpful toward their academic success in later grades.
To learn more great information on awesome graphing games to incorporate into your child’s academic repertoire, read on below!
Tips for parents and educators using graphing games and data handling for kids
- Prior to engaging students with the topic of graphs (or charts), make sure that you set the stage appropriately and have any useful props, worksheets, tools, or toys nearby. A great example of using a prop can be found in teachers who employ “talking” puppets to maximize interest in the subject and command attention to what’s being taught in an effortless and efficient way.
- Anticipate any questions you think children might ask you in regards to the material you will be presenting
- Give students an opportunity to explore the “stage” or materials. As they poke, prod, and examine the various components associated with the upcoming lesson, their interest will be sustained as they have had the opportunity to incorporate senses on a multidimensional level
- After teaching students the graphing and charting lesson, review the information with the entire class and ask specific questions of students in the form of “which ____ did the class like the best?” or “which _____ got the most votes?” and “which _____ did the class like the least? These specific questions can be easily answered by looking at the graph and having a basic knowledge of its visual representation of information
- Ensure you follow up with students/children and question them about the graph. Ask them simple questions such as what they liked or disliked and what their favorite part was. Following up with students will serve to reinforce the lesson just taught and have it remain fresh in a student’s head to discuss later at home with parents.
- Provide homework or take home sheets that revolve around that day’s graphing lesson so that parents can see the classwork and become involved with what their child is doing academically
Simple DIY games to introduce your child to graphing concepts
Before delving into classic graphing activities for children, trying out a quick and easy DIY activity based on viewing information will provide interest and stimulation to your child to get further invested in the topic of mathematics and charting the different data they will come across in their lives.
Make sure you have simple materials like large-cut poster board, tape, and colored construction paper “rectangles”
- Find a locale that is perfect for car-watching. There may be a bit of traffic but you want to make sure it’s not too congested. Ensure that area is safe for sightseeing and at an appropriate time of day. With your child, sit on a bench or other comfortable sitting area.
- Using a timer or your watch, sit quietly with your child and watch cars pass by for a total of 10 minutes.
- Take turns with your child graphing the various colors of the different cars you witnessed coming. Do so by taping a construction paper “rectangle” on the bar graph so that the graph gets taller with the addition of each passing car in that same color
- After ten minutes remain seated with your child and ask them some of the following questions: Which color car did we see the most? How can you be sure? Which color car did we see the least of? How many red, black, green… cars did we see? Did we see more white cars or black cars?
As your child answers these questions effortlessly based on their experiences of watching cars in conjunction with looking at the easy-to-view and easy-to-understand information on the bar graph, their mathematical reasoning is strengthened and their fine motor skills reinforced further with their new foray into graph making.
Graphing activities and data handling games for kids
Graphing activities and data handling games are extremely prevalent in modern day education. Classrooms all across the world incorporate the learning of numerical data and its translation into charts and graphs from a very young age. Doing so ensures mathematically-savvy children who are well-prepared for the academic hurdles and challenges that face them in upcoming grade levels. Parents looking to bolster their child’s academic success are able to do so in significant ways by implementing repetitive learning of math and its most important concepts for children, like the learning of graphs and charts.
For preschool - and kindergarten-aged children, graphing activities and data handling games are mostly limited to collecting data and organizing it in a sensible and meaningful manner. Data and other relevant information can be garnered from simple household staples like cereal boxes, fruit, beads, and more, as children tally up numbers for assessment and then subsequently input them into graphs.
Though this process might seem overly basic, the reality is that preschoolers and kindergarteners are not only practicing graphing skills through playing graphing games but they are also delving into the world of data analysis, specifically statistics.
Many parents are able to immediately recognize the importance of simple bar charting activities once the link to complicated mathematics concepts like statistics is brought into the equation. When a parent shows a lack of enthusiasms for participating in data graphing games with their children, teacher’s must strong convey how critically important the matter is, and how it is a mathematical subject that must be practiced at home and at school in order to master the information and succeed at optimal levels in future grades.
Check out these graphing activities that can be used at or at home!
Slightly more sophisticated than the super easy DIY graphing activities, these graphing games will have your child reading data like an expert in no time!
Make a tally-style bar chart and ask children what their favorite cereal is. Have your child ask all of his friends and peers and to assess his data to put on his tally.
Use this basic tally to collect information on everything else you can think of from animals, colors, foods, and more. Using this data graphing game enables children to:
- Collect information
- Engage in surveying
- Sorting and organizing
- Reading graphs
- Preparing graphs and tallies
- Comparing results with peers
To chart many of the basic information that your child or student compiles, you are not limited to the use of a simply tally bar-chart. There is a wide array of graphs you can use to input your data including, but not limited to the following: Graphing Mat, Pocket Charts, and more sophisticated charts with extensive options.
In-school Data Handling Models and Games for Kids
A step up from the basic and simple games described earlier in this article, these data handling games encompass many models including bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, and tally charts.
Through the use of simple numerical values and easy-to-understand illustrations that are brightly colored, engaging, and promote interest, these data handling games are immensely important tools in getting children to understand the concepts of data analysis and to find meaning in the mathematical concepts they are studying.
Upon becoming proficient at data handling, adept children will assess their own data, and, subsequently, create their own graphs with the appropriate information.
Venn Chart or Venn Diagram – a wonderfully easy-to-use resource where children can practice the sorting of multiples and more.
Carrol Chart or Carrol Diagram – Another fun and easy-to-use diagram for children to play around with as they input their information and group things together in yes/no categories.
Grapher is a popular kid’s game that enables students to create and design their own block graphs with specific information. Users are able to personalize their graphs by changing titles, scale, and colors.
Bar Chart: The Game is an engrossing game for students based on the use of bar charts and graphs. Different playing levels are available after students have mastered the previous level. The game offers hours of educational fun and interactive activity, as children perfect their data collection understanding and fine-tune their motor skills.
Sort the Shapes is a popular in-class game that centers on students sorting and organizing shapes within a stationary Carroll diagram. As students quickly match shapes, the game takes on an almost Tetris-like feel and provides ample amounts of educational entertainment.
At-A-Glance Benefits of Teaching Graphing Activities to Students
- Graphs transform dull and droll numbers into exciting and easy-to-understand concepts
- Graphs and data graphing games provide incomparable opportunities to seamlessly blend together math, reading, literacy, and social skills to best-prepare children for future grades
- Reading and using graphs helps to develop fine motor skills and cognitive skills
- Graphing games help children to build knowledge, skill, and confidence
In classrooms of yesteryear, technology was not a luxury that was enjoyed by within educational settings anywhere. In the last two decades, technology has exploded across the globe and today, nearly every man, woman, family, and child have been exposed to all the latest technology has to offer, like cell phones, laptop computers, and myriad other handheld devices.
Technology has successfully made its way into mainstream households and is found to be as commonplace as other basic home elements such as refrigerator, sink, and living room space. With our population’s increasing use of technology and the Internet, computers have made their way into America’s classrooms and have transformed the way children are taught, the way they learn, and how they ultimately perceive the world around them.
Technology enables children to play educational video games that clearly and decisively express and impart meaning to complicated subjects that are not easily explained by a teacher’s lesson or lecture. Through the use of engaging characters, bright colors, and riveting dialogue, computer graphing games serve to teach children all manners of subjects in a quick and easy-to-understand fashion.
The continuous use of technology is fundamentally important to education. Not only are children learning important mathematical concepts such as data handling through computers but they are also developing their fine motor skills, expanding their environments, and ultimately building the knowledge, skills, and high level of confidence to succeed in future grades and life.