Data Collection Activities & Games for Kids

Instructor: Rayna Cummings

Rayna has taught Elementary Education for 12 years (in both 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades) and holds a M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University

Hands-on activities are the best way to teach students how to collect data and make different graphs. In this lesson, you will learn a few fun hands-on activities to get your students excited about data collection and graphing.

Teaching About Data

When it comes to teaching about data, let's face it - there are a million ways to do it. Deciding what data to use is only the first step; finding the correct graph, materials, and information that meets the needs of your students is the hard part. In this lesson, I will show you some fun, interactive games and activities to use to teach your students about data.

Birthday Bar Graph

One of the first ways to introduce data to your students is at the beginning of a school year using something they love - their birthdays. Using the students' personal information and something they can relate to is a great way to kick off your data lesson. Have the students go around the classroom asking other students what is their birthday month. The students will then put tally marks next to the months for each student's birthday.

As a class, you can then come together and make a bar graph of the students' birthdays based on the numbers that they've collected. You can discuss words like the most, the least, total number of students, and so on. Then you can hang the graph up in the classroom all year as a reference point about data collection and bar graphs, or using bars vertically or horizontally to show data.

Here is an example:

Example bar graph using students birthdays
Birthday bar graph example

Coin Flipping Probability Graph

What student doesn't love playing with money! With this activity, students will be flipping a coin twenty times and recording the results of each flip on a chart. (I'd recommend using a quarter, since it's the easiest for elementary students to manage.) Students will then total up their results and discuss their findings with partners or as a class.

Students will learn that there is a fifty percent (.50) probability, or chance, of their quarter landing on heads or tails with each flip. You can extend this lesson and have the students record their flips based on different series, such as how many times did they get heads or tails after five flips, ten flips, and so on. Look at the example charts to use for this activity.

Example of charting the combinations of heads and tails coin flipping
Coin Flipping Combination Chart

Jumping for Data and Graphs

With this activity, students will measure how far they can jump from a starting point. They'll need a tape measure, distance graphing chart, and masking tape (to mark their jump distance).

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