Lesson plan

Bar Graphs: Interpreting Data

In this lesson, students will make bar graphs and interpret data using real-life data from other students. They will get practice writing and answering survey questions.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Let's Collect Data! pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Let's Collect Data! pre-lesson.
  • Students will be able to make a bar graph to represent data.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Take a quick poll from students on what their favorite season is.
  • Use tally marks, and record results on the board.
  • Tell students that today they are going to use data to make bar graphs. Explain to the students that data are facts or statistics that are collected to help us learn more about something. Say, "We can create bar graphs from the data we collect! A bar graph is a visual display of bars that compares quantities or numbers."
(10 minutes)
  • Use the data from the board on favorite seasons to make a bar graph.
  • Draw the bars on the chart paper to represent student answers.
  • Write the title "Favorite Seasons" at the top of the graph, and explain to students that bar graphs should include a title.
  • Explain to students that bar graphs also need a scale, scale label, categories, and category label.
  • Continue completing the bar graph by adding the rest of the labels and the data.
  • Discuss each part of the graph with your students.
(15 minutes)
  • Draw circles on the board and use different colors to color in each circle.
  • Take a poll, asking students to name their favorite colors.
  • Draw tally marks beside each color as students name their favorites.
  • Display a copy of the Blank Bar Graph worksheet for students to see.
  • Write in the color words at the bottom.
  • Have students take turns shading one bar on the sheet to represent their favorite colors.
  • Point to the bottom of the graph, and ask what label should be on it (colors).
  • Draw a line under the color words for the label and write "Colors."
  • Point to the left side of the graph, and ask your students to label it.
  • Write "Number of Students" on the left side of the graph.
  • Ask questions about the graph to check for understanding. For example: "Which color is most liked? How many people like red? What does this information show us? What did we learn from collecting data and showing it in a bar graph?"
(10 minutes)
  • Give students the Jake's Nature Hike worksheet.
  • Read over the directions with the students.
  • Have students complete the graph on their own.


  • For advanced students, instruct them to create their own questions other students can answer by using the data in the graph. For example: "How many more people like green than red?" Encourage your students to write comparison questions.


  • Help students who need support write the labels on the graph. Instruct them to shade in the bars, showing them how the numbers on the left correspond with how many people like a certain color.
  • Have them create line plots instead of bar graphs, until they see the correlation between the numbers on the axis and the number of items.
(5 minutes)
  • Circulate and observe students as they complete their graphs.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to explain how to make a bar graph.
  • Have a volunteer take a quick poll, and invite other students to quickly sketch a graph on the board.

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