Will it Float? Simple Graphing for Preschoolers

I really do love graphing with preschoolers.  It makes math concepts like numeracy, 1-to-1 ratio (counting one number for one item), comparing numbers, and sorting objects very visual and hands-on.  Graphing does not have to be complicated.  We’re not talking parabolas here, just simple T charts will do.

Just recently I did a sink or float activity (because no matter how many times we do it, my boys still think that 20 pound pumpkins will sink) and I used the back of the door for our graph.  Just a door and some painter’s tape.  Voila!  A graph! 

Here’s how I organized the activity:

After gathering all the items we would use for our investigation, I drew a quick sketch of each item on an index card.  Before the activity, we talked about each item and made hypotheses as to which would sink or float.

I made a quick T chart with painter’s tape on the back of the door, and labeled each side.  You could easily use the same technique on the wall, the floor, or a table top. 

Next the children took turns pulling a card, finding the corresponding item and tossing it into the bathtub.  (Yes, bathtub.  Where else are you going to float a 20 pound pumpkin?)  After each item we then placed the card on our graph.

Afterward we looked over the graph, counted, made comparisons, and talked about what the floating items had in common.  It was a quick, easy, and fun way to explore science and math together!

How do you use graphing with young children?



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