Make a Bar Graph

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SWBAT make a bar graph and interpret the information.

Big Idea

The Greats of Graph! In this lesson, students will make their own bar graphs.

Activating Strategy

10 minutes

I start this lesson by watching the following video: bar graphs


I use this video because it demonstrates how to take the information that has been gathered and put it into a graph to make it easier to read and understand.  This video demonstrates that we can gather the data in many ways, making lists, using check marks, etc. and turn this into one simple to read and understand bar graph.

One of the misconceptions that frequently comes up when teaching to this standard is that students may have difficulty finding the value for a given bar in a bar graph because it's so abstract.  Some students may find it helpful to represent the data with unifix cubes before recording in the grid.  This will help them with a visual representation of the data.  They can then use the connecting cubes to transfer the information into a bar graph.

Teaching Strategies

15 minutes

I remind students that a bar graph is a graph where each unit on the bar represents one.  I display a sample graph and review the features of the bar (graph title, numbers, etc.).  (My PowerPoint can be found in the resources section.)

Read the following problem aloud to the class:

Dan keeps track of the food he sells at the soccer game. He sells all of the food on the table. Make a bar graph to show the food Dan sells.

  • What do we need to do? (Make a bar graph showing the number of each kind of food in the picture.)
  • How can we use connecting cubes to help solve the problem?  (I can put red cubes on all of the hot dogs in the picture. I can put yellow cubes on the tacos. I can put green cubes on the slices of pizza. Then I can connect the cubes by color.)

I then have students use their unifix cubes to represent each food item on the table.  I ask them:

  • What does your cube train show about the food that Dan sold? (He sold more hot dogs.)

Guide children through the next model on the PowerPoint with the following questions.

  • What do you use to make the bar graph? (I use the picture of the flowers in the garden.)

I then have students use unifix cubes to make a model of the graph.  I then call a student to come to the board and color in the graph.  I then guide the discussion:

  • What information does the graph show? (There are more sunflowers than daisies in the garden.)
  • How do you know which flower there are more of in the garden? (There are more sunflowers because that bar in the graph is longer.)

Independent Practice

30 minutes

I then have students ask 10 classmates which hand they use to write with.  I tell the class that we will use this information to make our own bar graph.  I have students record their information on the Make Bar Graphs worksheet.

Here is a video of my students asking their classmates which hand they use:


For struggling students, I allow them to use unifix cubes to help in coloring in the correct number of cells on the bar graph.


5 minutes

To close out the lesson, I have students answer the question in their math journals:  How are picture graphs and bar graphs alike?