Q:

My son is in first grade and is struggling to understand graphing. Can you give me some techniques to use to introduce children to graphs? -- Want to Help

A:

The techniques used to introduce children to graphs are very simple ones. Children draw graphs based on the results of an experiment. Then they ask questions about the results of the experiment, answering with information shown in their graphs.

The following activities acquaint children with the construction and interpretation of pictographs. For the first activity you will need a small package of M&M candies and a piece of paper. The procedure is to begin by opening a small package of M&M's and noting the different colors of candies. Make a list of the different colors on a piece of paper, each followed by a row of 10 small circles. Have your child sort out the candies by color and place them in the circles adjacent to the color names. Ask the following questions:

1. What color is used most?

2. What color is used least?

3. Are there more yellows or greens?

Before enjoying the candy with your child, record the number of candies of each color. For further work, keep the graph to use in the future. Repeat the experiment on another day. Compare the results with your previous experiment. Ask the following questions:

1. Do all packages of M&M's contain the same number of candies?

2. Do all packages contain the same color in the same numbers?

You can also do this experiment with 1/3 cup of Fruit Loops, colored marshmallows, Gummi Bears or dry bean soup mix.

This type of graph is called a "concrete graph" because the graph uses the actual items being graphed.