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Grandparents Teach Too: Math fun with creative graphing

Graphing helps children look at numbers in different ways. Starting children with graphs when they are young helps them count items quickly, organize, compare, and discuss information. Using different items makes graphing fun.

You’ll need four varieties of pasta, beans, or M&M type candies, paper, crayons, pencil, and a small bag.

Graphing Important

A graph is a great tool to explain math concepts like more, less, and equal. Children are counting and working with one to one correspondence as the item is counted and then placed on the box of the graph. Graphing is a good way to see different groupings as well. By using correct math terms families are teaching math vocabulary that is necessary for school success.

Kinds of Graphs

Explain to children there are different kinds of graphs and you are going to be using a bar graph. These graphs help people actually see comparisons between numbers of items.

On one sheet of paper make a graph that has the same size boxes of four columns with ten rows in each column. In each bottom box, draw a simple illustration of the chosen pasta, bean or stone. Explain that each row going across and each column going down in a graph is called an axis.

Place no more than ten pieces of each type of pasta, bean, or candy in a bag. Help children sort the items based on characteristics like color, shape, size, or texture and count each group.

Children can place each item in a box above the correct picture. Talk about what the graph looks like. Does one kind have more? Which kind the least amount? Are there any that are equal? Your children can then color a box as a piece of pasta is removed. Older children can color the correct number of boxes after counting each group. Be sure to have a conversation about what the graph is showing. On another paper, children can dictate sentences about the graph using words such as more, less, and equal. Tape the papers together and tape them to the refrigerator to share with other members of the family.

Going Beyond

Try flipping the graph so that the boxes extend horizontally. Does it show the same information? Is it just as easy to see which item has more, less or is equal? Add a different shape of pasta and be sure to add another column for that shape. How does that change the information? A few good books to read with your children that explore graphing and different kinds of graphs are:” The Great Graph Contest” by Loreen Leedy, “Lemonade for Sale: Bar Graphs” by Stuart J. Murphy and “Graphing Favorite Things” by Jennifer Marrewa.

For more indoor fun see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons live and podcasts.