Relating Graphs to Stories

Contributor: Marlene Vogel. Lesson ID: 10826

Do you like fish stories? Or any stories? Ever think math would help you write a story? Using colorful examples, worksheets and your imagination, learn how to read graphs and write stories about them!


Middle School

learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Fish Population

A local fish hatchery decided to collect data during a four-month period in order to determine the number of fish in the hatchery each month. They put their information into the graph below.

Use the graph to respond to the following questions. (You can click to check your answers as you go.)

The graph above helps to tell the story of what occurred in the hatchery during the four months of observation.

This lesson will provide you with the skills you need to read graphs and learn the stories that accompany them. You will also create a story to match the data found on a graph!

  • The first thing you need to know about graphs is that the information presented is read from left to right, just like a sentence. Look at the example below:
  • As you can see, the graph above shows someone's progress in getting facts correct. When reading it from left to right, you will notice that as each day goes by, this person is able to get more facts correct. The amount of correct facts increases each day. Can you think of another situation where you would draw a graph to show an increase? Share that information with your teacher.

  • When you read a graph, it is possible to see an increase, a decrease, or a constant. A constant is the representation of information that does not change and is seen by a straight line. See below for examples:

    graph examples
  • Take a good look at the three graphs above. Notice that there are two words outside of the graph. The words are "time" and "temperature," and they are the quantities that are being compared in each of the graphs. When a graph is showing an increase it represents increase in both of the quantities. When a graph is showing a decrease, it represents a decrease in one quantity but an increase in the other. And finally, when a graph is showing a constant it represents no change in one quantity but an increase in the other.

  • Focus on the graph that shows increase. With this graph, you can see that as time increases so does the temperature.

  • Now focus on the decrease graph. As time increases, the temperature decreases.

  • Finally, focus on the constant graph. As time increases, the temperature remains stable and does not change.

  • With each of these graphs, you can tell a story. You can even match a graph with a story.

  • Below are three brief stories. Match each story with one of the graphs above. Discuss your choices with your teacher. Make sure you explain why you chose to pair each graph and story pair.

    Story #1 I decided to spend the day outside working in my garden. I was outside for four hours. After two hours, I decided that I need to go inside and get a sweater.

    Story #2 I was enjoying a picnic with my family. It was a little chilly outside when I left my home, so I wore a sweatshirt. I also brought a jacket with me, but I left it in my car. After the first hour of the picnic, I noticed that I did not need to take the sweatshirt off, nor did I need to get my jacket.

    Story #3 My friend was relaxing in the shade while her son played baseball. She said the weather was lovely and quite comfortable at 12:00 pm, but by 1:30 pm, she began to feel hot and sweaty, even in the shade.

  • Refer to the Facts I Got Correct graph which has been copied below:

As you have already learned, you can make a story to go with a graph. When I look at the graph, here is the story that pops into my mind:

Kathi has been learning about multiplication facts. Every day, her teacher gives her a quiz on the multiplication facts that she was taught the previous days. Each day, she is getting more and more of the multiplication facts correct on her quizzes. She started out a little rough, but that is because she was not studying. The first day, she only got 3 out of 20 problems correct. The second day, she got 4 out of 20 problems correct. Then, Kathi figured there would most likely be another quiz the next day, so she began to study. The third day, she did really well! Kathi was able to get 12 out of 20 problems correct. She made a plan to keep studying her multiplication facts every evening after dinner. On the fourth day, she was able to get 15 out of 20 problems correct. Today, she will take her fifth quiz! I hope she does well!

  • Can you make a different story about the graph above?
  • Does your story involve studying?

Think about it and share your story with your teacher.

In the Got It? section, you have the opportunity to practice some activities to help you make sure you understand how to relate graphs to stories!

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