Pictograph & Bar Graph Surveys

I love teaching graphing and data.  Kids are naturally curious, as every teacher & parent knows, and they get very excited about collecting their own information about the world around them.  It’s really fun for them to have the opportunity to choose their own question to ask, then to survey the whole class (or another class, or their family and friends, etc.).  Once they have their ‘data,’ they can organize it into pictographs or bar graphs so that they can more easily see what they’ve discovered.  They can even write questions for other students to answer using their pictograph or bar graph data or give a more ‘formal’ presentation of their results.

How to collect and graph data with surveys:
1.       Come up with a question.  Make sure it is the kind of question that has categorical answers.  (For example: What is your favorite season?- The responses can be ‘winter,’ ‘spring,’ ‘summer,’ or ‘fall.’)

2.     Write out the categories/ answer choices.  

The Common Core suggests that students in 2nd grade use 4 categories, and students in 3rd grade use six category pictographs and bar graphs.

PRO TIP: This is one area where it would be easy to differentiate.  Stronger students can wait and see what categories arise or do a quick sample to help them come up with their categories. Students who need support can ask yes/ no questions to make data collection simpler.

3.     Collect the data.  Go out and ask your question, but be organized in how you record your responses!

4.     Make a tally chart to consolidate your data.  Don’t forget to double check!

5.     Make a pictograph and/ or bar graph to represent your data. Choose a key or scale based on your data.

6.     Present your pictograph or bar graph and your data!  Share what you learned and noticed about the answers to your question.

It can be hard for students to organize their pictograph or bar graph data collection, so I use this FREE printable page to help them.  They can write their question in the box at the top.  In the smaller boxes, they can write the category/ answer choice and list the names of the people who selected that choice.  This will help them keep track of who they’ve asked and haven’t asked.

(The second page of the freebie is a blank pictograph template that could really be used for anything.  Students can use it to display their survey data, or you can use it for additional practice with pictographs.)

Or, for a more complete, ready-made and Common Core-aligned pictograph or bar graph activity, click on the one you need:

It’s always fun to see the pictograph and bar graph survey questions that kids come up with!!   I especially love using this graphing exercise at the beginning of the school year to help students get to know each other. It really helps them just to be more comfortable speaking to each other.  It also works really well at the end of the year, when students can ask each other or upper/lower grades about the future and what they have learned this year.

Happy (Pictograph or Bar Graph) Teaching!
Christine Cadalzo