Reading Tables: What Breakfast Food Is Your Favorite?

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SWBAT read a mathematical table

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will understand that tables help us organize information clearly.


10 minutes

We are going to take a survey:  What is your favorite breakfast food?  I accept all answers to this question.  As students say what their favorite breakfast food is, I write each choice on the board (I do not tally their responses so as to make the data look very disorganized).  When we've finished, I ask students:  Which breakfast food is the favorite?  How do you know?

We have a lot of data about what our favorite breakfast foods are but the way that is organized on the board is hard for us to use it well. In order to organize this information we can use a table. 

Introduction to New Material

10 minutes

Draw a table on an anchor chart or on the board. 

Breakfast food

Number of students who like this food best










I work with the students to fill in the table using tally marks (my students already had an understanding of tally marks from our math meeting, but if your students have not seen tally marks, this would be a good time to introduce them!)  Using the breakfast food data, I fill in the different types of breakfast food (pancakes, cereal, eggs, etc.) in the left column.  Then we count out loud to determine how many children like each type of breakfast food, filling in the table. 

After we have built the table, I ask students:  How many students like eggs best?  How do you know? How many students like pancakes best?  How do you know?  How many students like pop tarts and pancakes best?  How do you know?

 If students are struggling to read the table ask more questions or model how to read a certain column or row on the table. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

In partners, I have students work to read a table and answer questions about it.  As students work, I circulate to support students and ask guiding questions:

1) Explain your answer to me.  How do you know?

2) Why do you think that this table is laid out like this? 

3) What would be another way to represent this information? 

When finished reading the table, I bring students back together and we go over the worksheet, checking to make sure that they understand the layout of a table and WHY people put data in tables.  In order to support student understanding of WHY we use tables I ask the following guiding questions:

1) Why should I use this table instead of just writing everyone's answer on the board like we did for the breakfast food?

2) What would be another way to represent this information?

3) Explain how this table makes it easier or harder to understand  how many scoops of ice cream Annie sold at her shop. 

Independent Practice

10 minutes

The independent practice for this lesson is differentiated by proficiency with this concept.  As students work, I will circulate, supporting students as necessary and checking to see how students are solving the problems and whether any major misconceptions exist. 

Group A:  In need of intervention

Students in Group A will work on practice problems with tables using numbers 10-30.  They will identify numbers on the table and will not be required to do basic addition or subtraction work with a table.


Group B:  Right on Track!  

Students in Group B will work on practice problems with tables using numbers 20-60.  They will identify numbers on the table and as an extension will be asked to do a few problems using basic addition and subtraction. 


Group C: Extension 

Students in Group C will work on practice problems with tables that use numbers 30-100.  They will identify numbers on tbe table and will also solve problems using basic addition and subtraction. 


3 minutes

I want us to look at our original poll from the beginning of the class (I show the flip chart slide with the tallies).  Today we learned how to take data and put it into a format that is useful for us (Show the "Favorite Breakfast Foods" table).  Some of us also started working on solving story problems with our tables!  Tomorrow we will spend more time working on solving story problems using our tables.