December 13, 2017
by Mia Perez

Lesson plan

Math + Love = Valentine's Day Bar Graph

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Students will be able to identify the features of a bar graph and draw a bar graph to represent a data set.

(5 minutes)
  • Share with students that people across the world will be celebrating Valentine's Day this month, and one of the biggest Valentine's Day traditions is to give cards to people you care about.
  • Explain to students that today they will learn about Mr. Mason's second graders who celebrated Valentine's Day in class by exchanging cards with one another.
  • Tell students that we have information about the types of Valentine's Day cards that Mr. Mason's students exchanged, and we are going to use this information to create graphs and answer some questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Project the Valentine Graph worksheet onto the board, and distribute one copy to each student.
  • Refer students to the information at the top of the paper written in bold, and explain that this is the information, or data, that we will use during this lesson. Read this information aloud.
  • Draw students' attention to the tally chart. Review for students that a tally chart represents data using tally marks, which are a quick way of keeping track of numbers in groups of five. Tell students that to make a tally mark, draw one vertical line for the first four numbers and one diagonal line across the first four lines for the fifth number.
  • Model for students how to fill in the first row (Store-bought) using tally marks.
  • Call on a student volunteer to come to the board to fill in the second row (Handmade) using tally marks.
  • Ask students to complete the remaining two rows independently and review answers as a class.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that they are going to use the information in the tally chart to create a bar graph.
  • Review for students that a bar graph is a simple graph where the heights of each bar provide information.
  • Project the Picnic Bar Graph worksheet onto the board.
  • Refer students to the different features of this bar graph including: the graph title, which tells us the information we can find on the graph, the vertical axis, which goes from top to bottom, the horizontal axis, which goes along the bottom of the graph, the axes labels, which tell us what information is presented on each axis, the scale, which tells us how much or how many, and the bar height, which tell us the value of each bar.
  • Write each of the features on a piece of chart paper titled: Bar Graph Features.
(20 minutes)
  • Explain to students that they will make their own bar graph using the information from the Valentine Graph worksheet.
  • Remind students to use the Bar Graph Features list to ensure that they have included all of the necessary elements on their bar graphs.
  • Distribute graph paper, rulers/straight edges, and markers.
  • Tell students that when they have finished creating their bar graphs, they will answer the questions at the bottom of the Valentine Graph worksheet. Remind students to use their tally chart and/or bar graph to help answer the questions.


  • Provide students with more examples of bar graphs during Guided Practice/Modeling (see optional worksheets).
  • During Independent Work Time, distribute the Blank Bar Graph worksheet to those students needing extra assistance with creating their own bar graph from scratch.


  • Increase the amount of information in this data set by combining Mr. Mason's second grade class with Ms. Lim's second grade class. For example, in Ms. Lim's class, 12 kids gave store-bought Valentines, five kids gave handmade Valentines, five kids gave candy, and three kids gave a small gift. Ask students to incorporate this new data into their tally charts and bar graphs.
  • In this Valentine's Day lesson plan, introduce students to a third type of graph (such as a picture graph), and ask students to graph this information in a new visual representation.
(5 minutes)
  • Draw a bar graph on the board that is missing—or has mixed up—some of the bar graph features. For example, the horizontal and vertical axes are switched or the title does not match the information presented.
  • Move through the Bar Graph Features list and ask students to give you a thumbs up if your bar graph has the information correct and a thumbs down if the information is incorrect.
  • Ask students to help correct the errors in the bar graph.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students to think about what was easier to use to answer the questions: the tally chart or bar graph?
  • Ask students to share their opinions and provide specific reasons why one chart was easier to look at and analyze than the other.

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