Using Technology to Develop Early Graphing Skills

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

Graphing is one of those skills that needs to be included in instruction all year long.  If you try to “cover” it in a 2-week unit, you just can’t really do it justice.  I’ve rounded up a few online resources you can incorporate into your math workstations to keep graphing front and center.

Topmarks: Interpreting Data  This interactive activity takes data gathering through all the steps from collecting data with tally marks, to organizing the data, to graphing it–both with a bar and pictograph.  It does not, however, have the students answer questions about the graph, but you could easily have the kiddos write some. Students can choose additional questions–best subject in school, what job you want when you grow up, type of pet at home, etc.–so they can use this website multiple times.

Toy Theater: Fruit Fall  This is really more of a game, but it does graph the number of each type of fruit the player catches in the basket.  There is also a fishing version of this activity that features a horizontal pictograph.

Learn Alberta: The Data Bank Research Company  I LOVE this activity, because it puts graphing in a real-world setting.  The Data Bank company helps businesses who want to know more about their customers.  As you can see by the different tabs in the first picture, all the steps of data gathering and analysis are covered, from collecting the data to interpreting it.  In the organize step, students can choose either a tally chart or line plot.  The only option for graphing is a vertical bar graph, but I really like the way students have to add the labels.  Students can do this activity multiple times and the data is different each time.

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics): Create a Graph This is a great website your students can use to generate various types of graphs from their own data.

Looking for other graphing resources?  Check out Graphing Fraction Benchmarks (3-5) or Shake and Spill with Graphing (K-2).

1. Thanks for sharing! These are all new to me. I haven’t really ever thought about using technology to work on graphing skills but it looks like something I should be doing!

Tara
The Math Maniac

• It always amazes me the quality resources available for free on the web, Tara!

2. These look great! My biggest challenge is I have an ipad and an apple tv. If a website uses flash, I am unable to use it in my classroom. 🙁 I will visit these sites and see if they work on the ipad. Maybe you know some great free apps that are similar? Thank you for all the math support!

• Ha ha, Chaya! As I was writing this post, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, I bet there some good apps, too.”. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

• Toytheater Fruit Fall and Fishing have been updated to html5 to work in web browsers on iPads and mobile devices as well as desktop computers

3. I will have to try these out with my class! Line plots are the hardest for my students so it’s good to see one that includes that type as well! Thank you sharing these resources Donna! I always get so many great ideas from your blog!
Jeannine
Creative Lesson Cafe