First graders are learning many new ways to represent information in visual and organized ways. First grade classrooms are filled with objects to sort, manipulate, and arrange - from building blocks, to shapes, to magnetic letters. Organizing information into a graph is a key math skill for children of this age. Pictographs and bar graphs can be used to organize all kinds of classroom information, such as how many children are absent and present, how many are buying lunch and packing lunch, or how many people are in each student's family.
But graphs don't have to be just for the classroom. With some simple materials, you can turn your refrigerator into a giant, magnetic graph. This activity is a great opportunity for your child to practice her graphing skills, while also allowing her to utilize that always-inquisitive mind she has. And what makes this graph even more engaging, is that it features some very familiar faces!
What You Need:
- Round lids from the tops of frozen orange juice containers (one for each family member)
- Adhesive magnet strips
- Pictures of family members
- Glue or tape
What You Do:
- Cut out the face of each family member, so that it fits inside the orange juice cap. (Note: Turn the cap to the side that has the raised edges. The back side, which is flat, will be the side that gets the magnet.) Glue or tape the picture into the cap.
- Attach a magnet strip to the back of the cap.
- Test to be sure the magnet is strong enough to hold the cap on the refrigerator. Add another strip if needed.
- Write a question at the top of the paper. Start with something simple, like "Do you like macaroni and cheese?" At the bottom of the paper, write the possible answers: yes, no.
- Hold the paper on the fridge, and have each family member place his or her magnet in the appropriate place - according to his or her answer - on the graph (start from the bottom and go up in this case). The magnets will also hold the paper in place.
- At the end of the day, have your child come up with a new question for tomorrow's graph. Repeat with a new piece of paper the next day to create another pictograph.
- For fun, your child can make a book of family graphs from this activity. Simply have her trace around the magnets on the graph before taking it off the fridge, and write each family member's name in the corresponding circle. Keep this paper in a binder and add subsequent graphs to it daily.
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.