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Different Types of Graphs: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lisa Hanson

Lisa is a Continuous Improvement Coach for her school district and has taught in elementary school for many years. She has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

Looking at a graph can tell us more than words ever could. There are many kinds of graphs. In this lesson you will learn about three specific kinds of graphs: the pictograph, bar graph, and the line graph.

Different Types of Graphs

You are in charge of asking your class about their favorite school lunches. After asking everyone their opinions, you are left with a lot of data, or information, and aren't sure how to organize it. Creating a graph can be a great way for organizing and sharing your data. Graphs show data in a visual way that is easy to read and understand. There are many different ways to graph data, but they all have some things in common. They all must have titles, labels, and be easy to read. Which graph will be best for your data? Read more to find out.

Pictographs

Pictographs show or compare data using pictures or symbols. The possibilities are endless with this type of graph. You can use any type of picture or symbol you choose. If you were making a graph about how many pieces of candy children received, you might use a piece of candy as your symbol to show the data. The picture or symbol stands for a certain amount and is repeated a number of times. In the pictograph with the candy, one candy stands for two actual pieces. Since Sam received 10 pieces of candy, there are five candy symbols on the graph. Pictographs are easy to use and understand, but sometimes can be inaccurate because it is difficult to show anything but whole numbers.

Pictographs show data using pictures or symbols.
Pictograph

Bar graphs

When you can make a pictograph, a bar graph is just as simple. It also compares data, but instead of pictures, the data is shown in bars that go horizontal (flat) or vertical (up and down). A vertical bar graph often looks like a bunch of buildings lined up. These are easy to read because you can line them up and compare them instantly. In the bar graph example, the graph shows how many students use different types of transportation. You can quickly see that walking has the most students, because walking has the tallest bar. A bar graph has a vertical axis and a horizontal axis. An axis is a labeled line to help look at your data. The vertical axis usually shows numbers, and the horizontal axis shows the different categories, but these can also be flipped. Everything must be well labeled so it is easy to understand. These graphs are also good for showing large amounts of data.

Bar graphs are used to line up and compare data.
Bar graph

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