Finding Meaning from Simple Graphs and Charts

Contributor: Marlene Vogel. Lesson ID: 10225

Have you ever seen a weather map in the papers? Were there colorful lines and bars and pictures with numbers? Those are charts and graphs, easy ways of showing data. Learn to read and draw your own!


Measurement and Data

learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Take a look at the picture below:

favorite food chart

  • What is it?

It's called a chart, or graph!

  • What is it telling you?

If you read the title, you know it is information about Students' Favorite Food.

  • If you were to ask your friends what their favorite flavor of ice cream is, what would your chart or graph look like?

You can enjoy reading in all areas of life!

Even while you are learning different subjects in school, you are practicing reading. Remember, reading helps us to understand information.

Often, when reading, the words are teaching us new information and skills.

You can also learn and understand information from what are called graphical elements. That is a big term but one that is easy to understand, and it is one that you are already familiar with but don't know it!

Below are three examples of graphical elements you have probably seen in some of your school subjects:


A timeline is a picture that tells us the history of someone or something in the order of time.

morning timeline

The timeline above shows the events that will happen during the morning on a school day. This timeline starts at 7:00 am with this student waking up and goes all the way to noon when this student eats lunch.

  • What other events are happening during this student's school day?

Next, take a look at this TeacherTube video about Timelines! You'll learn some new vocabulary words!


A diagram is a picture of something that has labels with it to show the different parts of the object.

flower diagram

Above is a diagram of a flower. Notice that it has labels telling you what the different parts of the flower are.

The following is a video about the Parts of a Flower - Functions ...for Kids , Kindergarten, Preschoolers from


A chart is a picture that illustrates data. In other words, a chart takes information that is written in numbers and shows that information in a picture.

favorite cereal graph

Above is an example of a bar chart. There are several other types of charts you can use in math, but for this lesson, we will only use the example of the bar chart.

Here is a video called Learn Reading Bar Graphs. Math video tutorial for children from

So far, you've learned about timelines, diagrams, and charts, like a bar graph. In today's lesson, you are going to learn how to understand information by looking at a chart.

The best way to learn this skill is for you to put together a chart for other people to read. The best way to put together a chart is to perform an experiment so you have information of your own to show in a different way.

You are going to do an experiment on height and distance. Height is how tall an object is, and distance is how far an object travels.

The experiment you will do involves using LEGO® bricks, a piece of wood or cardboard to use as a ramp, a toy car, and a measuring tape.

Use the slideshow below to help you do your experiment. Once you have completed your experiment and filled out your datasheet, you will come back to this lesson to learn how to turn the number data from your experiment into a bar graph.

Below is an example of the measurements you could have from your experiment. (This is only an example and will be different from your data.)

data sheet example

You are going to use the numbers from your data sheet to make a chart.

Before you draw your own bar chart, watch the Math & Learning Videos 4 Kids Bar Graphs for 2nd Grade Kids - Create your own Bar Graph video below. This video will show you how to put together your bar chart:

Now that you have watched the video, it is time to draw your own bar chart!

  1. The first step is to draw the lines. You need to make the lines look like a big uppercase "L."
  2. Across the bottom line (the line that goes from left to right), you will put the number of LEGO® bricks or blocks used to make your ramps.
  3. Along the side line (the line that goes from top to bottom), you will put numbers that will include the numbers in the distance column of your data sheet.
  4. Now you need to put labels on your chart. Across the bottom, those numbers represent height. That would be a good label for the bottom numbers. The numbers that go along the side are the distance, and that would be a good label for those numbers. Put those labels on your chart.
  5. Now, give your entire chart a label. You can give your chart any name that helps describe what it is telling you. Let's try "Ramp Height and Car (or Ball) Distance."
  6. The final step is to draw the bars on the chart to show how far the car traveled for each height of the ramp. Your bars are like drawing rectangles and coloring them in. Just remember, the top line of the rectangle needs to start at the correct distance number for each height!
  7. Use a different color to color in each bar. This will help you read the chart better.

Looking at your chart, answer the following questions:

  • Which height helped the car move the farthest?
  • Which height helped the car move the least distance?

Congratulations! Now that you can put your own chart together, you can read one, too! You now know how charts work and how to read them.

Race on to the Got It? section and try reading a chart!

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