Early Graphing Activity

Graphs are visual representations of data. Even young children can enjoying creating hands-on graphs (even though we don’t necessarily have to use that term quite yet). Making graphs is great practice in math!

I rounded up some different “modes” of transportation we have laying around our house for this graphing activity. Big Brother understood much more than I thought he would!

1. Here’s what you’ll need:  a pre-made graph on posterboard (see instructions below), 3 index cards, and various items to graph. In this case, we used what he have a lot of around here–cars, trains, tractors, etc. If you don’t have a lot of these toys around your house, you can just use whatever you have on hand that can be easily organized into groups.

2. Take a blank posterboard and draw 4 rows and 3 columns (as you can see, mine aren’t straight or equally-spaced–if you are OCD about this kind of thing, use a ruler). Write the numbers going vertically up the left side of the graph.

3. I chose to have Big Brother organize his toys based on whether that type of transportation traveled on land, in the water, or in the air. I drew a picture of each (land, sea, air) on an index card.
4. Loosely tape the index cards on the bottom of the graph (so you can use it again later on).

5. Gather your items to be graphed.

6. Let your little one get to work placing the item on the corresponding place on the graph. It took a few minutes to explain that we start at the bottom and then place the items above one another. It was also a great cognitive exercise for reasoning whether a toy travels on land, in the sea, or in the air.

7. Keep going!

8. Once all the items have been placed on the graph, have your little one count how many is in each column (great practice for one-to-one correspondence).

9. Talk about which group has the most, the least, etc.

Put the blank graph is a safe place for another time!

Extension idea:  Add more rows and increase the number of objects you are graphing.

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  1. Great idea! I am loving your new blog. Thanks for all the work you are putting into this. You are pretty amazing!

  2. What a fun activity!! First grade teacher here, too!!! :) My son is so into all things that move, he would love this!! In fact, I just made him a little transportation card to give his Daddy for his birthday. One of the only things he can focus on is cars, trucks, etc! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Love this idea and LOVE how you can reuse and repeat the learning experience by simply changing the items, and adding more rows as they grow :)

  4. Love it. We did a graphing activity for a little older children on paper and with candy hearts for V-day. So much fun. We sorted by color and then placed them by color ( I wrote the name and used markers over the name to help the kids who could not read). Then the older kids recorded the number they counted and the younger ones I wrote as they dictacted the number. Then I asked which had greater and which had the least. Note: Only the 5 year old could get least. The others (3 and 4 year olds) got most or greatest. They all had fun. Especially eating the manipulatives.

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