When preschool children learn to use graphic representations they develop a whole new set of skills. First, a topic is chosen, and information on that topic is gathered. The information can be organized and understood by the children in a wide variety of ways.
The following simple graphs activities help children develop strength with number recognition, one-to-one correspondence counting while advancing into numbers and operations. Also, the words and pictures used to create a graph to help build language skills. Cooperating with classmates allows for learning new social skills.
Make an Observation
The first step to teaching children how to use graphs is deciding upon and making an observation about a particular subject. Several examples of observations children can make are:
- How/what kind of vehicle did each child ride in to get to school today?
- How many brothers does each child have? How many sisters?
- How many children have brown eyes? Blue eyes? Green eyes?
- Who is wearing pants today? A skirt? A dress?
- What is everyone’s favorite book read in class this week?
- What is everyone’s favorite fruit, vegetable, or flavor of ice cream?
Once a subject has been chosen, it is time for the children to discuss and organize the information into graph form.
Graph With Names
Using the example of everyone’s favorite book for the past week, start with a piece of paper large enough to accommodate the titles of the five books printed clearly across the top. If possible add a visual representation of each book title next to the printed words to assist in recognition.
- Ask students to name their favorite book.
- Ask students to write or watch the teacher print that student’s name in a vertical column under the book title.
- Once all the names are recorded, ask the students to count aloud the number of names printed under each book title.
- A student or the teacher records the number of names under each book title.
An extensive discussion can follow regarding which book was most popular, which was least popular, and why.
Graph With Tally Marks
Create a graph using the example of the vehicles the children rode in to get to school. Find a picture of each type of vehicle (car, truck, van, SUV, school bus, etc) and create a chart with names and pictures of the vehicles either across the top or down the side of the chart.
- Ask each child to name the type of vehicle used to get to school that day.
- Give the child a marker and ask the child to draw a small vertical line under or next to the correct vehicle.
- When every child has had a turn, ask the class to count the tally marks by each vehicle. The teacher or children can write the number.
The class, guided by the teacher can then discuss the results.
Graph With Counters
Information can also be organized using a graph and three-dimensional counting objects such as plastic chips, small sticks, or buttons. For a graph depicting everyone’s favorite fruit, create a chart with words and pictures of fruit that can be placed flat on a table or the floor. The children can draw pictures of fruit to use on the graph.
- Ask each child to name a favorite kind of fruit.
- Have the child place a counter next to or under the fruit on the graph.
- The children count the number of counters by each fruit.
- The teacher or children write the total number of each category.
The class completes the activity with a discussion of the results
Graphs Develop Pre-Academic Skills
Graphs can be used in the preschool classroom to teach a variety of skills. Information related to classroom lessons or themes can be discussed and organized in many ways. In the process, children strengthen math, language, and social skills.