Graphing is a skill that develops from a child’s natural curiosity about how to compare groups of objects. Once children are able to sort and categorize objects into groups, graphing provides a visual way to organize the sorted items, keep track of the number of items in each group, and make simple observations about which group has more or less items than the other groups.
What is a bar graph?
Bar graphs are simple graphs that allow a visual comparison of the number of items in two or more different groups.
Bar graphs typically have one column for each item being tracked with numbers along the left side of the grid to record the amount of items. In each column, one marked square represents one counted item.
Making bar graphs
Bar graph worksheets are a great way to help your child practice creating bar graphs.
Begin by pointing to the different pictures below each empty column to identify the different groups of items your child will be sorting and counting. Then ask him to count the number of a particular item in the box at the top of the page. Depending on your child’s counting ability and memory, he can either count all of one group of items and then fill in the same number of squares in the corresponding column or he can count one item, cross it out with an X to signal that he counted it, fill in one square in the corresponding column on the graph and then count a second item following that same one-at-a-time process.
Reading bar graphs
When your child is comfortable creating a bar graph, confirm his understanding of bar graphs by asking him to read a bar graph that he did not create.
To accurately read a bar graph, your child will need to remember to put his finger at the top of each column and then draw an imaginary line to the left to see which number on the left side of the page corresponds with the height of the column.
As your child reads each bar graph, ask questions that encourage him to compare the amounts in each group with the words “more than,” “less than” and “equal to.” Although being able to count the number of each item is important, it is equally important that your child be able to discuss the groups relative to each other and understand how the graph shows, at a glance, which group has the most and which group has the least.
Encourage poll-taking with bar graphs
A fun way for your child to solidify his knowledge about bar graphs is by creating his own polls and tracking the answers he receives with bar graphs.
To help your child begin, consider suggesting a question that has a YES or NO response, since this will create the basic two-column graph. Brainstorm with your child to find a question that he might want to ask of family members or friends, such as: “Do you like cold weather?” or “Do you play a musical instrument?”
As your child becomes increasingly comfortable with creating and discussing bar graphs, encourage him to ask a poll question that has four, five or six possible answers. Consider poll questions such as, “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” or “Which season do you like best?” Using the blank bar graph worksheets, help him write the attribute that names each group (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip and butter pecan or spring, summer, fall and winter, for example) under the appropriate column. Direct your child to color in one box for each poll answer he receives. After he has recorded a number of answers, encourage him to discuss his results.