Circle Graphs: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mark Boster
Circle graphs are used to compare categories. You can see what there was more or less of in just one look. You can also use circle graphs to compare parts to a whole. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Let's see how it's done.

Dinner Time!

At a large family gathering, Mary noticed that her mother was cutting different pies into six pieces each, and then putting them on small plates for the family members to take. After each person had taken what they wanted, there were six pieces left over. Mary's mother put the six pieces back into one of the pie pans. Which flavor of pie had the most pieces left over? We can answer this question using a circle graph, also called a pie graph.


A circle graph is a graph in the shape of a circle that shows different parts. Each part of a circle graph represents a different category. You can use a circle graph to visually compare the parts to the whole, and the parts to each other. A larger part means that the category represented by that part is more common. A smaller part means that the category represented by that part is less common. We can tell which categories are most or least common overall, and we can compare whether one category is more common than another category.

Let's use a circle graph to compare how much pie of each flavor was left over. Diagram 1 shows which pie pieces were left over. You can see that there was one piece of blueberry pie, two pieces of key lime pie, and three pieces of cherry pie. By looking at the circle graph, you can easily see that there was more cherry pie left over than either of the other two types of pie, because the part of the circle graph representing cherry pie is the biggest. You can also see that there was less blueberry left over than any other type, because the part of the circle graph representing blueberry pie is the smallest. Since the part representing key lime pie is bigger than the part representing blueberry pie, we can tell that more key lime pie was left over compared to blueberry pie.

Diagram 1

You can also talk about the parts of circle graphs in terms of percentages. A whole circle graph represents 100%. If half the circle graph is made up of cherry pie, then cherry pie represents 50% of the pie left over (since half of 100% is 50%). Since the parts representing blueberry and key lime pies are each smaller than the section representing cherry pie, that means less than 50% of the pie left over was either blueberry or key lime pie individually.


The next day, Mary went to the store and bought a bag of candies. She made a circle graph to show the different flavors of candy and compare how many of each there were. That graph is Diagram 2. How many different flavors of candy did she get, and how do the amounts of each flavor compare?

Diagram 2

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