Gathering information and playing :)

This week I thought it would be fun to have a look at some data. Children are such curious creatures and love finding out about the world around them. What better way to do this that through collecting information and looking at what the results can tell us.

Data handling is actually a fairly simple part of the curriculum initially and so can get overlooked by tutors, parents or anyone else doing extra work with your child. I find it is a great way to have some fun, find out something interesting and to learn to use numbers to help us. This can also be a great bonding session as you and your child work on this project in search of an answer together. This activity is something that you can work on towards a shared goal rather than the normal teacher / student style of helping with maths.

The joy of this week's activity is it can be entirely open ended, you can choose what to do, how to do it and how far to take it and have lots of fun in the process.

So, here it is:

Data Handling - keep your ears and eyes open and when an appropriate topic appears in your life grab it and do some data gathering around it and then follow it up with some data analysis.

For example: my daughter loves books and was trying to work out if I had read more to her or her brother one day. So I suggested we recorded who I read books to each day for a week. We created a tally chart which we put on the wall and then every time I read her, her brother or them both a book a tally was added to the chart and at the end of the week we looked at the results, drew a simple graph and then I got her to answer some questions about the results.
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Another example: many years ago with my Year 3/4 ( 2/3 Grade) class the children were complaining that the playground equipment wasn't very good and that they would like some new stuff. So I suggested they did a bit of data gathering about what equipment we already had and what state it was in and then they could present their findings to the head teacher as evidence that we needed new equipment. The children had a fab time without really realising that they were doing data handling.
Image result for outdoor toys clipart
Some other ideas:
How quickly do fruit / veggies appear on our plants?
How long does Mummy actually need to spend doing jobs instead of playing with us?
When does it get dark each day?
How much of the different types of food do we eat each day?

Here's a brief 'what to do next'

  1. Once you have an idea you need to turn it into a question to investigate.
  2. Discuss with your child how you can do this including what info you need to gather and how often
  3. Together create a chart to gather the info on
  4. Gather the info you need over whatever time frame you decided on - most helpful is a week
  5. Look at the info you have gathered and discuss how this can be recorded to best show the results for discussion
  6. Discuss what the results show
  7. Answer your original question
You could extend this activity to the computer and have a go at some graphing software together. Please can I ask that you do it on paper first as the exercise of having to sit and draw a graph really helps develop that understanding. Remember children are practical learners and they learn so much more through doing something than just being told about it or watching it happen. The computer is a fun extension.

I hope you have fun with this activity and thoroughly enjoy exploring and investigating something together and coming up with an answer

Keep it simple and interesting with these small people. A basic tally and then a very simple pictogram is all these children need, they will love exploring and finding out the info. Doing the counting of the tallies and moving that info to another graph will keep them busy and teach them how we can investigate something and record the results in a very simple way. (When tallying you can either do the proper tally in 5's or you can just do lots of lines without going in 5's. This depends on your child and what would work best for them )

5, 6 and 7 year olds
Hopefully you can tally properly with these children (what a great way to follow on from last weeks counting) and when you write up the data you could use a simple block graph or a pictogram or both. Really look at the info with them and make sure they understand how the data worked, and that they clearly understand where the answer came from. They should be able to answer simple questions around their data. You could always do the analysis on the computer with them too.

7, 8 and 9 year olds
These children should easily be able to tally and gather their information. Where you are going to challenge these is in the analysis. When they do the graph they should be able to do bar charts where the intervals are counted in 2's or 5's or a pictogram where the picture represents either 2, 5 or 10 or something. Really try to push their understanding of the data by asking lots of questions and maybe getting them to make some predictions. Again computer graphing could be fun.

9, 10 and 11 year olds
Before any data is gathered start by encouraging your child to make a prediction of the results. Then gather the data using a tally chart. When looking at the data these children can really extend their knowledge of graphs. As well as pictograms they can do bar charts, line charts and pie charts. A good discussion here is which is the most appropriate for your set of data and why. Once they have graphed their information as well as answering basic questions these children need to be encouraged to know what the mean, mode, median and range of their data is. Then when you ask them about their data and discuss it really push those questions and encourage them to answer the question but also be able to explain why they came up with that answer.

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