Create a scene and construct a graph
Solving many problems requires the collection, analysis, representation, and evaluation of data. Children learn at an early age how to ask questions about the meanings of things around them and how to begin organizing and categorizing their attributes/properties using pictures, lists, and tables. The use of graphs gives us a visual aid for helping with the interpretation of collected data. A typical graph might show statistics about the magnitude of how many students ride the bus, walk, or ride in private cars or how many times hamburgers are on the menu each month.
The teacher should have the students make a GollyGee Blocks scene using a variety of ideas using various objects, shapes, colors, and textures. The teacher directs the students to list all the shapes and objects used in their scenes and then tally them in a list or table. A good place to do this is in their math
Using the table and a new scene, students make a bar graph of their data. One way to do this is to switch to the overhead view and place blocks in a line for each data element. Another way is to stack blocks on top of each other.
Students should make a legend for their graph using the actual objects they represent.
The teacher should observe the children as they employ their graphing math skills and evaluate their learning through questioning them on procedures used and what conclusions they drew from doing the activity.
The teacher should verify that all elements of a students graph have the same scale. If they do not, the graph is misleading.
Students write about what they have learned about the collection and evaluation of data.
Students print out their graph and give to another student to make a list or table from and their own scene with the same number of objects.
The teacher and students can create a graph of the total number of shapes used by all
students during their graphing sessions for a classroom chart or table.
Student make a booklet about the kinds of graphs they made to share with others.
Older students share graphing skills with a first grade or kindergarten age buddy class for teaching them about kinds of graph. (And share students' books too!)
Students share all the class graphs with others by creating a computer lab bulletin board for display during National Math Month (April). Name the bulletin board.
Teacher may use this activity as a kick-off to a math unit in graphing and further in depth learning about graphs in everyday life. (Next step might be collecting a good variety of graphs found in the newspapers, magazines, and other facets of life when we collect and share data and information.)
For younger classes, the teacher should demonstrate the steps for making a graph before the children begin working on their own. This may not be necessary for third through fifth grades, if the process is explained clearly with examples.