Diagrams Lesson for Kids: Definition, Components & Example

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Sometimes authors use pictures or drawings in their works. Not only do these images look nice, but they also serve an important purpose. In this lesson, you will learn about diagrams and how authors use them.

What is a Diagram?

Do you like Legos? If you've ever built a Jedi plane or Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine, you've probably used a Lego kit. Inside each Lego kit is a book of instructions that shows you exactly how to turn a pile of blocks into a cool race car or wicked flying saucer.

A Lego instruction book is an example of a diagram. A diagram is a drawing, image, or sketch that is used to help the reader visualize what the author is describing in the text. There are certain components that diagrams have to help the reader understand them and the text. Let's look at an example Lego diagram about building a Lego Minifigure to explore these diagram components.


minifig


Titles

Diagrams have titles that tell what the diagram is about. In the example, the title (highlighted in yellow) is 'How to Build a Lego Minifig.' This title lets you know that the diagram will explain what you should do to build a minifig.

Labels

A label is a word or phrase that is assigned to a specific part of a diagram to help the reader identify it. A part of a diagram is sometimes labeled by an arrow or line connecting the part of the diagram to the word being used as a label. In the example, the labels are highlighted in gray--the 'head' is shown by a bracket connecting the picture of the head to the words about it.

Captions

Diagrams often include captions. Captions are short phrases or sentences that are found at the bottom of a diagram or picture and provide additional information about what the reader sees. They could include information about:

  • Dates, locations, and important names
  • Other information needed to understand the diagram
  • Additional facts about the topic of the diagram

In this example, the caption (highlighted in blue) lets the reader know that this diagram shows the basic types of parts need to build a Lego Minifigure, and that there are different choices for those parts when building your character.

Now that you know what diagrams look like, let's explore why an author would use a diagram.

Why Use a Diagram?

Diagrams can be used for different reasons, such as to show part of a whole, steps of a process, and relationships. Let's take a look at each of these purposes.

Parts of a Whole


Diagrams showing parts of a whole
parts


An author could use a diagram to show the different parts of whole object. The top diagram shows the parts of a dog. It points out the parts of the body that make up the whole animal.

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