Something's Fishy - Working with Bar Graphs

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Students will be able to create and gather information from a bar graph.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students continue to build their graphing skills. This lesson also reinforces important mathematical skills like counting and comparing.


5 minutes

For this lesson, you will need a copy of the classroom book, Amanda's Amazing Aquarium, included as a PDF.  Print the file on a color printer.  I laminate the pages for durability and bind it with a comb binding machine.  Book rings would also work well.  There are gray squares on the back page that need Velcro adhered to them.  Put the hook half of the Velcro on these pieces and the fuzzy part of the Velcro on the boxes of the graph where indicated.  I keep them in small basket for when I read the story.  Afterwards, I put them on the fuzzy Velcro to store them.

I gather my students around my big chair and begin a conversation to help them build connections to the text.  I ask them, Raise your hand if you have ever been to a pet store.  Raise your hand and tell me what kind of animals you saw there?  I gather several answers.  It is obvious this is a topic that many of the students can connect with, so I give them a minute to talk to a neighbor.

When they are done talking, I read the title.  It says the title of our book is Amanda's Amazing Aquarium.  What is an aquarium?  That's right.  It is a tank that has fish in.  From the looks of our story, there will be something to do with an aquarium in our story.  Let's find out what it is about.  

I then read the next page, "My name is Amanda.  I own a pet store.  I sell all kinds of pets like this iguana, but people really like my fish."  Okay, now I know why there is a picture of an aquarium on the front.  This book is going to be about fish.

I turn the page, " It is time to order new fish, so I need to figure out how many I have of each kind.  Can you help me?  Let's make a bar graph!"  I know that word...graph.  We have been working with graphs.  I wonder what it means when she says "bar graph".

 On the next page I read, Can you add the orange fish to the graph?  How many squares do you need?  I have a small basket with the gray squares that have Velcro on.  I invite a student to come up and put a square for each fish on the graph.  I remind the student to start next to the label (picture of fish) that is on the graph.  After the student is done, we count the number of squares that were added to the graph and how many are at the bottom of the page.  We check to make sure the number is the same.

We continue on through the next two pages, having students come up, add the squares to the graph and then counting to check. 

On the following page, I read, That's great!  Now let's count how many there is of each kind.  I have the students count and I write the totals for each fish with a dry erase or overhead marker.  I ask them which one had the most and which one had the least. 

 I then finish reading the book.  The students love the piranha at the end of the story.  We then move to our SmartBoard spots to begin instruction. 


15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SmartBoard.  If you have a SmartBoard, the file can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a PDF of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the Smartboard.  I have cards with each student's name printed on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

Again, the lesson is similar to the previous day.  I want to continue to expand upon the students' introductory knowledge of graphs.  So many of the Common Core Standards can be met with graphing activities.  They get practice sorting, counting and comparing.   For this reason, I think it is important to give the students lots of exposure to graphing.  Structure and predictability are so important for kindergarteners.  By keeping the lesson format similar, students become more comfortable and feel free to take more risks in their learning. 

I open the first slide (SmartBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques. I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can make and use a bar graph.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend information from a bar graph.

Slide 2: We have been working with graphs.  The graphs we have been working with are called pictographs.  Do you know why?  The word pictograph sounds like the word picture.  I think maybe these graphs are called a pictographs because they have pictures on them.

Slide 3:  Today we will begin working with a different kind of graph.  It is called a bar graph!  Do you know why it is called a bar graph?  That's right.  The graph is long with squares that are put together that look like bars.

Slide 4:  Let's compare the number of squares on the graph to the number of shapes.  I count the number of shapes of each color and then the number of squares.  I check with the students to see if there is the same number of each.

Slide 5: Now let's try making our own bar graph!  When I call your name, I want you to come up to the board and cross out a shape and then move a box that is the same color on to the graph.  Let's start with the green shapes.  I use my cards to pick a student to come up to the Smartboard.  I do the same for the red shapes.  I watch to make sure the students start next to the label and and that they are crossing a shape out for each box.  I also invite a student to come up and total the number of shapes for each color and write the number on the graph.  When they are done, we compare the number on the graph to the number of shapes to make sure there was no mistakes.  We also talk about which group has more and which group has less. 

Slide 6: (If you are short on time, you can skip this slide and go to number 7) Let's try with three colors.  We repeat the same procedure as above, but this time three students instead of two come up to move the shapes.  We total the shapes again, double checking work and we compare using most and least. 

Slide 7:  Now let's make a bar graph of the fish.  Same procedure as above but this time have the student come up and move one kind of fish.  Again, check and discuss the results of the graph.  

Slide 8:  Turn and Talk Time  The students get with their assigned Turn and Talk partner.  Turn and Talk.  This is a graph of some fish in an aquarium.    Talk with your partner.    I ask them, What fish has the most?  What fish has the least?  I give the students time to talk and then I call on someone to share their information.  I repeat their answer as a complete sentence.  "The blue fish has the most."  I have everyone repeat.  Then I ask which one has the least.  "The puffer fish has the least."  Repeating the sentence helps the students to build important oral language skills and practice math vocabulary.  We then move back to our seats to begin guided practice.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need the Fish Bowl Graph file included with the lesson.  I print the fish bowls in color and I laminate them so the can be used over and over.  Vis-A-Vis or dry erase markers  work well, but make sure to erase them when you are done.  It tends not to erase when they have sat for awhile.  I have one marker per student.  You will also need a copy of the graph.  I like to do this on paper and have the students use markers, but you can also laminate these and have the students color them in with dry erase markers.

I pass out the Graph Cards to the students.  I then give them a marker.  I say to them, We are going to try to make a bar graph.  I want to know how many of each fish are in the fish bowl.   I give each student a recording sheet and have them write their name on the top.

Since I use a black and white copy for the recording sheet, I say to the students, lets get out our crayons (wait).  We will color the top fish on the graph orange.  Let's color the second fish yellow, since it is yellow and purple.  Let's color the bottom fish blue.  Now, let's find a orange fish.  We will cross it off with our marker.  Put the marker down.  Now let's find the first box on the graph next to the orange fish and color it in.  Now look, is there any more orange fish?  Yes, I see one more.  Let's cross it out and color in another box.  Are we all done?  Yes, so now let's find the yellow and purple fish and do the same thing, cross one out, color it in.

We continue in the same fashion until all the fish are crossed out and the graph is complete.  I circulate around the room watching for any students that need extra assistance.   When the students are done, I ask them to total the number of fish in each row.  We then circle the one that has the most and put an X on the one with the least.

Once the students are done, I collect the fishbowls and the markers.  I do not have them put the paper in mailboxes yet.  For my best use of time, I have them tuck the paper under their chair and await further direction.

We do the same thing as above for graph 2.  We continue on with graph 3 a nd 5.  Please note that these graphs do not have a space for the students to total.  I want them also to be able to columns visually.

After they are done, I each student a sanitizing wipe.  I have them wipe down the pen and I collect it.  They then wipe off the board with the wipe and the helper collects them.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need the Fish Graphing Sheet.  You will also need the multicolor Goldfish crackers.  Two bags is enough for my classroom.   I count out the crackers, giving each student about 20.  I put them in snack size Ziploc bags.  I make sure that a student does not have more than 8 of one color crackers. The following are the steps I follow for this activity:

1.  I pass out the sheets and have the students put their name on each one.  I tell the students to put both sheets in front of them . 

2.  I have the students color in each fish on the sheet the color of one of the crackers:  yellow, orange, green and red.

3.   I have the students sort the crackers by color.  I then have them count the number of crackers of each color and write that number in the box on the sort sheet.  I have them leave the fish in the boxes.

4.  We then take the graphing sheet.  I have the students start at the top and color in each fish on the label part of the graph the same colors as on the sort sheet (in the same order) yellow, orange, green and red

5.  I tell the students, Take  a cracker out of the yellow box and put it in the bag.  Now color one box on the yellow section.  Take another cracker, color another box.  Do this until you are done with the yellow.

6.  The students continue working until they are done with the entire graph.  I have them count the number of fish in each row.  They compare that number to the number in each box on the sort sheet.  If there is a problem, they raise their hand and I come and work through it with them. 

7.  After everyone is done, I have them color in the fish on the bottom the color of the cracker that is most and least.  We discuss this information as a class and when they are done, they put it in their mailbox.