While watching the Winter Olympics this February, help your child master an important 4th grade math skill by creating a colorful bar graph using data from the Alpine Skiing events. As you and your child watch the events together throughout the Games, you'll record the gold medal winners, then create a double bar graph to compare the current winners with the winners from the last Winter Olympics. This is a very involved, but ultimately fun and rewarding activity that will help your child master the art of drafting, reading, and analyzing bar graphs.
What You Do:
- Watch the Alpine Skiing events with your child during the Winter Olympics in February and have her record the number of gold medals each participating country wins. If you are unable to view the events on TV, you can find the information online.
- Once all the skiing events have ended and your child has recorded all the data, it's time to create the bar graph. Have your child set the white board up in front of her.
- Begin the bar graph by drawing the x and y axes along the left and bottom sides of the board, using the ruler to keep the lines straight. Make sure your child leaves enough room between the axes and the edge of the board for the data.
- Have your child draw marks every three inches along the x axis, making 8 marks total.
- Write the names of the following countries under the x axis, placing one name under each mark: Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and U.S.A. Title the x axis "Countries".
- Repeat step 5 for the y axis. Number the marks 1-6 to the left of the axis, and title the axis "Number of Gold Medals Won".
- Have your child enter the following data from the 2006 Olympics into her bar graph, placing the bars to the left of each country's mark:
- Austria - 4 gold medals
- Croatia - 1
- Finland - 0
- France - 1
- Norway - 1
- Sweden - 1
- Switzerland - 0
- U.S.A. - 2
- Using a marker in a different color, have your child enter the new data from the 2010 Olympics into the chart, placing the bars to the right of the 2006 bars.
- Have your child draw a key in the upper right corner of the chart explaining which color represents which year.
- The last step in creating a bar graph is giving it a title. Have your child think of a title for her graph such as "Alpine Skiing Olympic Gold Medal Winners". Have your child decorate the graph if she wishes.
- Now it's time to practice reading the graph! Have your child answer the following questions using information from the graph:
- According to the graph, how many total gold medals were given in 2006?
- Which country won the most gold medals in 2006?
- Which country won the least amount of gold medals in 2010?
- How many countries won more gold medals in 2006 than they did in 2010?
- How many countries won more gold medals in 2010 than they did in 2006?
- How many more gold medals did Austria win than Finland in 2006?
- How many more (or less) medals did Norway win than Croatia in 2010?
- How many gold medals did Sweden win total in 2006 and 2010?
It's easy to vary this activity by sport. Prefer figure skating or luge? No problem—just enter the data that pertains to the sport you want to follow!