Graphing: Freebies and Fun Ideas!

This time of year my students are studying different types of graphs-- and I decided to make their activities a little more exciting than just filling out a page from our math curriculum.

Here are some suggestions for making graphing fun in your classroom! I usually follow these same steps no matter the type of graph-- but I usually teach the graphs in this order: bar graph, pictograph, and line plot.

1) I always begin with a fun introduction-- Star with this FREE video from BrainPopJr.! My kids love bringing their whiteboards to the floor and answering the questions while the video is playing! (Be prepared to pause at the right moments!)

2) Next, we practice the graph whole group! So I come up with a quick question like "What is your favorite color?" or "How many pets do you have at home?" (something simple). I have a volunteer keep tallies on the board, and then we turn those answers into our own very own class bar graph! (Also, I recommend doing it on anchor chart paper so you can always refer back to it) Check out this anchor chart from That Teaching Spark:
3) Have them practice using technology! I have a set of 12 student computers, so I can cycle students through as a center to practice different graphs! Here are some bar graph websites I found just by searching "bar graphs 3rd grade interactive":

4) Partner students up and hand out containers of objects that you've prepped ahead of time. (This is a great option if your school doesn't allow sugar!)
I use Ziploc bags or small Tupperware filled with these types of items:

  • Lego pieces
  • Unifix cubes
  • Puff balls
  • Stickers
  • Mini erasers
  • Buttons
Give each group a blank graphing freebie page, and I also have a generic bar graph question page for your students to use after they create their graphs!

5) Let them try it "hands on" by themselves! I always like to do candy graphing (use any candy that comes in different colors)! It's simple yet effective! I buy the packages of individual M&Ms, but you could easily buy larger bags and separate them into baggies or bowls. Here is an easy print-and-go graphing product you can use to help your students be more engaged:
5) Practice and review. I go back every day for a few days after introducing the graph and quickly review. I will pull up IXL on my board and we will answer a few questions-- or I will find a quick graphing page for them to practice with! This let's me know who still needs help and who's got it down!

6) Repeat this process for pictographs and line plots. You can find several ideas for graphing on my Pinterest board-- and Teachers Pay Teachers also has many valuable resources! Don't be afraid to search around for fun ideas for your unit! Here is one last freebie I've used this year (click pic to see):
How do you handle graphing your classroom?

Thanks for stopping by our blog-- I hope you found something useful today!


  1. in my childhood, Graphs Had always been the most complex stuff I used to deal with and I hated it and still do. You have shared extremely entertaining and fun loving ways to learn graphs.

  2. Your classroom looks super fun and educational at the same time. Thanks for some of the free resources.

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