Data Analysis for Toddlers and Preschoolers

When is too early to introduce data analysis?  Never! In all honesty, the littlest of littles can collect and analyze data and have fun doing it!

If you haven’t introduced graphing to your toddler or preschooler yet, this outdoor activity is an easy way to introduce them to some foundational math skills.  In collecting data and creating a bar graph, children will

  • Sort and classify items
  • Organize data
  • Represent data using a graph

The key to this activity is to create a graph with real, tangible items.

What kind of items?  Well, we decided to use items found in nature, specifically our backyard!  We began by discussing what colors we see outside in our yard.  We then listed our colors, the categories for our graph, on a large white board (this is our horizontal axis!).

We brainstormed red, blue, purple, yellow, and green.

I also listed numbers for our vertical axis and briefly explained that we would use these numbers to keep track of the items we found.

Now on to the fun part!

Color search!  I gave them each a bucket to collect their findings.

And here is what they found.  Toddlers will love to dump their buckets!

Now you can have a discussion on what colors they found and begin to sort by color.  As they sort, they can begin to put the items directly on the graph.

My preschooler caught on quickly and excitedly put items into their corresponding boxes.  My toddler needed some assistance, but was good at grouping like items together.

We made some last minute changes to our graph, as we didn’t find any blue items (the great part about using a white board!), and changed our blue category to orange.

Don’t forget a quick discussion time.  What does our graph tell us?  We sat on the swing and talked about our graph a bit.  Specifically:

  1. How many we had of each color
  2. What color had the most; the least
  3. Why green should’ve been the most but wasn’t
  4. Why we didn’t find any blue
  5. And what our favorite color was

And that’s it.  Sorting, organizing, and graphing for little ones.  Easy peasy!

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