20 Ways to Teach Graphing

20 ways to teach graphing for first grade second grade and third grade

Graphs are commonly referred to as charts and are usually data which can be represented by symbols. In a world of info-graphics and constant data overload, graphing is not only necessary, but essential!  Whether you work with young children or intermediate kids, this post has 20 ways to teach important graphing concepts!

20 ways to teach graphing for first grade second grade and third grade

Surveys and Bar Graphs

If you have spent more than 5 minutes with a child in your life or teaching career, you know that students love to share their own experiences out loud!  Graphing is a tangible way for students to see how their experiences compare with others in their class!  In the guided math series for first and second grades, many of the graphing lessons revolve around surveying students and displaying results.  Once the results are displayed, the analyzing of the information can begin!  Notice that students don’t just build the pictograph on a pocket chart together, but they also build it in bar graph form at a table group or on the rug.  This helps students to understand that the pictures represent a value.  For now that value is one, but later we can get into multiples when our students are ready!  Third grade, I’ve got you covered further down in the post, but students in third grade with gaps in their understanding of graphing can benefit from all of these lessons.

What do you do first after school? 

first graphs after school

Which weekend day is your favorite? 

20 ways to teach graphing

Which zoo animal is your favorite? 

first graph zoo

Favorite game to play with a ball

first graphs ball

Favorite flavor of ice cream

first graphs ice cream

Which type of shoes do we wear?

First graphs

T-Charts and Probability

Once students have an idea of pictographs and bar graphs, we want to introduce the T-Chart and probability!  Students love to compare their results to their friends results.  Taking advantage of this natural curiosity is fun!  For the lessons in this next section, students are pulling manipulatives or cards from a bag to reveal the results.  They then tally and graph their results.  Once they have completed this, they compare with a study buddy to talk about the results
first graphs bears

Shell, Ship, or Shark!
first graphs ship

Toss a Penny-  Heads or Tails Graph and Tally

second penny graph

Number Sense graphing.  More than or less than 50.

second graphs number

This is the same graph, but this time is is more than 1,000 or less than 1,000

second graphs numbers

Independent Student Graphing

With every math concept, our students need to be responsible for applying what they know in their daily explorations.  There are daily graphing activities for students to do independently.  The guided math series gives you both whole group and small group lessons and materials.

T-Chart- Live on land or live in water

first graphs land water

Count and graph from a given set of pictures
first graphs lunch

Robot Graphing- study, count, tally, and graph

first graphs robot

Organizing given information into a bar graph
first graphs things to do

Gumball graph- color, count, graph, and analyze

Second graphs gumball

Warm and Cool Months- Students graph the months by the temperature most associated with the months and then create a T-Chart with the information

second graphs months

Student Created Graphs

Once students have a solid understanding of these graphing concepts, it is time to allow them to experience all of the steps involved!  Students will choose a survey question, gather information, create a graph, and share their results. It’s all step by step with templates to ensure success.

second graphs survey

Second grade has more independent practice graphing activities as well.

second graphs

Third Grade Data and Graphs

Moving into third grade graph standards, we branch out beyond the bar and pictograph.  Students work more in the pictorial and abstract.  For each type of graph, there are interactive notebook pages with information to be added.  Then student activities to reinforce the new learning.

third graphing bar graph

The graphs grow in complexity as the students are ready to apply more rigorous math skills.

third graphing bars

Dot plot, Frequency, and Pictographs

Students work on understanding the different types of graphs through the whole group and small group lessons in the third grade guided math series.

third graphing dot plot

third graphing frequency

third graphing pictograph

All of the guided math units have an end of unit assessment.  This review lesson prepares students for this upcoming assessment.

third graphing review

third graphing word problems

Guided Math Graphing Units

This graphing unit in the first grade guided math series, has ten lessons on graphing and ten lessons on coins.


This second grade guided math unit on graphing spends all 20 lessons on graphing and data.  Pick and choose your favorites, or teach them all!

guided math graphing

This third grade guided math unit focuses 10 lessons on personal financial literacy and 10 lessons on graphing.
third grade graping

What about Kindergarten?

The kindergarten guided math series incorporates the skill of graphing, but it is not as explicit as the ideas in this post.  There are graphs such as boys and girls in class, ways to go home, and our shoes.  If your kinder class is ready for the graphs in this post, there is no reason not to use the units shown here.  These units are standards based, but with all of the ability levels we have in our classes, it can be beneficial to check out the next grade level up or down!

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  1. Does your guided math have a computer component? My principal is willing but would like computerized testing.

  2. Very informative and helpful
    I am taking language can any share the some suppet starter and some odea of crative writing i am taking class one.

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  4. I love this! The link to your free download takes me to your TPT store, but I am unable to find the Oh Good Graph files. I would love to use them!