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Collecting and Analyzing Data Activities Your Students Will Love

Teaching data and graphing is so much fun because it is so hands-on. When we first think of data and graphing, they may seem like skills we don't use often. But, if you give it a little more thought, you'll see that collecting and analyzing data is something we do daily. They are important life skills. Showing our students the real-life aspect of the standards makes all the difference. Today, I'm going to share some collecting and analyzing data activities your students will love.

These fun and exciting activities are the perfect way to introduce your students to collecting and analyzing data.

Data and Graphs in Real Life

I love this skill because it is so applicable to real life. The tricky part is that our young students don't realize how often they are actually interacting with data. So, I set out to make this point at the very beginning of our unit. In fact, it's a great hook for the lesson. 

Use real world experiences like graphing the weather to introduce collecting and analyzing data to your first grade students.
We begin by talking about the weather and how it affects our daily decisions. Do we need a raincoat today? What will the temperature be this morning? Do I need a coat or hat? What's the weather like in Florida? Should we vacation there? 

I love to read a book discussing the weather as well. Then, we take a minute to watch the weather segment of the local news. It quickly demonstrates data collection and graphs.

Students can quickly see that data is real, and that it matters. They are "hooked" and ready to learn.

Whole Group Activities for Collecting and Analyzing Data

I like to do a whole group activity with the class where we survey each other, collect data, and analyze it. This is super easy to do. 

No crazy tools are required! All you need is your whiteboard and some Post-It notes. The topic of discussion is up to you. Just be sure to pick something of interest to your students. 

I like to survey the class on their favorite pet, their favorite foods, or their favorite piece of playground equipment. 

Collect Data

Get your students up and moving as they practice collecting and analyzing data by creating tally marks on the board representing their interests in specific categories.We start with a simple question.  While this can be anything you can think of, I like to coordinate the questions to those in the Mega Math Practice Graphs and Data resource.  This allows me to have no prep, ready-to-use practice pages to support our learning.   

After asking the question, the students write their answer on a sticky note.  This is a great way to make sure students are committing to one answer.  After we have completed this first step, I make sure that students understand that they just provided data.  

Next, we begin collecting the data from the class.  We begin by grouping all of the answers together.  I like to do this by having the students stand up when I call out their answer.  This helps them to see that individual answers are put together to make a data pool.

As we count each group of answers, we create a tally chart on the board of all of their responses.  If we are using a Mega Math Practice question, students also create the tally chart on their paper.  

Create a Graph

Next, it's time to create a graph. We practice with both bar graphs and picture graphs. The sticky notes are perfect for creating a bar graph. I create the columns on the board, and my students take turns coming up to place their Post-It in the appropriate place. 

We can then compare our tally chart to our bar graph and continue our discussion of analyzing our data.

Use sticky nots for your students to represent their interest in specific subjects. Then your students can complete their own graph to represent the results.I like to take the same data and create a picture graph with it as well. This allows my students to see data displayed in multiple ways.  

Creating a picture graph is easy to do on the whiteboard as well. You can print pictures ahead of time or just draw something quick and easy on the board.  

You don't need to be an artist to do this. If you surveyed the class on their favorite food, you'll probably be drawing a slice of pizza, a hamburger, spaghetti, and tacos! 

You can also give each student another sticky note and have them draw a quick picture to represent their answer.  They love being part of the process.  

I like to make a challenge of doing a quick draw and I give the students 1 minute to draw a quick picture of their answer.  This helps to save time so that the lesson can keep moving.

Analyzing the Data

These collecting and analyzing data activities are great for whole group instruction and centers your students will love.Once our data is collected and the graphs are done, it is time to dive into analyzing the data.  This is my favorite step in the process because it really helps students understand why data is so important.

Here are some questions to consider for the discussion:
  • How many people chose each category?
  • Compare two categories with questions like: How many more? How many less?
  • Which one has the most?
  • Which one has the least?
  • Any equal categories?

But I don't like to stop here.  Instead, by adding just a few additional questions, students can really see the value of data to everyday life.  Here are some questions to do just that:
  • How does this help us?
  • What decision can we make using this data?
  • When would this be useful for us?

I really love how these questions get students thinking.  In fact, their answers to these questions are often so insightful.  For example, after doing a class graph on students' favorite foods, one student said we could use the answers to help plan our class party.  After doing an activity focused on our favorite animals, one student said they could use this information to make cards for their friends.  

A Graph a Day

After we have completed our whole class lessons on data and graphing, I begin using one graph a day for the rest of the school year.  One easy way to do this is to incorporate these data and graphing activities into your morning routine.  This can be as simple as taking a few extra minutes to graph and analyze lunch choice or by using morning work focused on graphing.  

Data and graphing practice can also be easily added to our centers.  In centers, I like to use the Mega Math Practice graphing activities.  However, instead of polling the class on the question, I create a data set on the activity page that students will use in their practice.  This way students learn how to read data in various forms.  Then I add in some cubes or blocks so students can build a graph. 

By providing daily data and graphing practice, the students can really master these important skills.  And. . . since these questions focus on students they love answering them.  What student doesn't love sharing about themselves?!?  In fact, these graphing activities have helped us learn more about each other and allowed us to build connections and community.

Give it a Try

I hope these collecting and analyzing data activities have gotten you excited about teaching about data and graphing. They are tried and true methods in my classroom that have helped my students master these important skills.

Grab this free Graphs and Data resource and give it a try in your classroom today!

My Mega Math Practice Data resource has everything you need and more to teach the standard. It will provide your students with the daily practice that they need to succeed. Plus, you'll LOVE the digital version that is so easy to use with Google Slides. You can grab it HERE in my TPT store. 

These activities are a great way for you to introduce and have your students practice collecting and analyzing data.

Looking for More Ways to Teach the Measurement and Data Standards?

Tips and Ideas for teaching students to tell time in first grade.

The measurement and data domain contains 4 standards that must be covered in first grade. You can find tips, ideas, and resources for each of the other standards too!
  1. Measuring Lengths (1.MD.A.1 and 1.MD.A.2)
  2. Telling Time (1.MD.B.3)
  3. Represent and Interpret Data (1.MD.C.4)

Mega Math Practice for All First Grade Standards

Mega Math Practice is a comprehensive math resource that includes every first grade CCSS math standard in all four strands:

  • Numbers and Base Ten
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Geometry
  • Measurement and Data

It is jam-packed with over 430 pages of digital and print practice activities for your students.  There's more than enough for students to have guided practice and independent practice for ALL YEAR LONG! If you are looking for ready-to-use practice activities for the entire year, then you must check out Mega Math Practice.

This mega math bundle hits every first grade math standard you need using fun and engaging activities your students will love.

The activities are completely adaptable and can be used in a variety of ways. I love to use them for guided practice, independent practice, math centers, homework, and small group work. 

Save these Tips and Ideas for Collecting and Analyzing Data

Be sure to save this post to your favorite math board. You'll be glad you did when you're teaching collecting and analyzing data to your students.

These fun and exciting activities are the perfect way to introduce your students to collecting and analyzing data.

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