Got a request for more activities and more instructions on how to actually do them.

In this “Hunker Help” episode (lol), I will focus on a math activity that also involves students to student distant communication so they don’t go crazy on you:)


  • Learning objectives: Students will be able to collect, organize, and visually display data
  • Vocabulary: Data, Survey, X-axis (for 1st grade and up), Y-axis (for 1st grade and up)
  • Materials: Paper, markers, graphing (loads of free options online…but here is one).


I always try and ground any activity in a REAL life example. Learning needs to be meaningful especially for reluctant learners who see school as a mean child torture experiment. So when beginning the graphing unit with Jacob I told him we were going to plan a big dinner party, but I wasn’t sure what the main course should be. I asked him what he thought it should be. 

Jacob: “Chicken Nuggets.”

Me: “Hmmm…I was thinking spaghetti, and dad thinks it should be hamburgers. I wonder what people think of these choices and what they would choose.”


Then I lead with a question (always a question!). “How can I find out?”

Jacob: “We should ask people!”

Me: “What a great idea. That would let us know what people like best! We call this a survey. A survey is when we ask people a question and collect their answers to learn something. Let’s make a survey”


Then on large post it notes (of course, lol!), I wrote down the question: “Which food is your favorite?” We wrote down our choices. We previously did a lesson on tally marks, which is a fun thing to learn. Kids love it and from there you can have a great extension activity with counting by fives. If your kid doesn’t know how to make tally marks. 

Me: “When making surveys, people use tally marks to keep track of data (fancy word for information). Why do you think they do that? Do you think we should use tally marks?

Jacob: “To count easier?”

He wasn’t too sure why. So I challenged him. “Let’s try it out and maybe we can see why.”


Now comes the fun part! CALL PEOPLE on Facetime, Zoom, etc. I always insist that Jacob begins all the conversations by asking “Would you like to participate in my survey?” Teaching good ethical research practices early never hurts and grandparents tend to love this:) Have your child tally the responses.

Add up the tally marks. See counting by fives was much easier and my paper is organized!

Me: “We now know what to make for dinner! I think we should share our data (always use the right vocab word) with our participants so they can see for themselves, but this data table is messy and not easy to read. I wonder if we can make a picture of what we have learned. Mathematicians call this a graph. Let me show you.”

Take out the graph paper. 

Me: “First thing we need to do is label our graph. What information is this graph going to be about.”

Jacob: “Favorite foods”

For the first day, I would then write in all the names on the X-axis, but pause at the Y-axis. 

Me: “Jacob what is the biggest number we have on our data sheet?”

Jacob: “five”

For little ones, ask them if there are enough boxes to fit their data. If not? What could we do? This is a great time to practice skip counting by 2’s or 5’s.


Okay I’m boring myself. I think you get it.

Here are some pics of graphs we have done. A picture is a 1,000 words.

The next day repeat the whole exercise again with a question your child comes up with and have him/her make the graph. You can ask math questions about the graph too. Example: “How many more votes did hamburgers get than nuggets?”

For older kids, you can capitalize on this virus. I am a big believer in not shielding students, but empowering them. One great activity would be to challenge your students to study the graphs of China and figure out how many days until the virus plateaued (another great vocab word). Have them calculate day over day growth. The stock market has some exciting graphs too. Loads of arithmetic problems there:( 

Hope this is helpful and YES! We would be happy to participate in any of your future surveys. Jacob is now obsessed with surveys!

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