Looking for some developmentally appropriate ways to teach graphing to preschoolers? You read that right. Preschoolers can learn to make and read simple graphs. Here are some fun penguin themed preschool graphing activities.
Be sure to grab you free download form the end of the post, and read all about how to use this freebie in your graphing lesson plans for preschoolers.
Easy Preschool Graphing Activities
Graphing skills pair closely with comparing and sorting, In fact, one of the easiest ways to extend a sorting activity. There are so many benefits to sorting activities in preschool, and there are as many benefits to preschoolers learning how to graph.
It might surprise you that many preschoolers will naturally graph.
Recently I was sitting at my son’s baseball game and a little girl, about four and a half years old, started collecting rocks from the nearby landscaping. She placed the rocks on the bleacher next to me and carefully lined them up in rows.
Now, lining up rocks in and of itself is not graphing, but then I watched her move the rocks around for several minutes, and I realized what she was doing. She was grouping rocks of the same shape together in the rows. The small, round, circular rocks were in one line. The larger black, angular rocks in another line.
That’s how preschooler start graphing. She was organizing her rocks in lines that made sense to her. Add some counting or even some numerals, and you have a graph using real objects. And this she did completely on her own while her mom was cheering on the baseball team.
FAQ About Teaching Graphing to Preschoolers
Understanding data is almost the new literacy! When you introduce graphing to preschoolers, there are important teaching techniques to keep in mind.
1. Use real objects. Children benefit from hands-on activities that require them to actually move the data.
2. Try picture graphs. Show the children a pictograph and ask them to share what they notice about the different lines. Make a graph together as a class.
3. Make the graphs meaningful. Preschoolers won’t be interested in how much a company’s share value has increased in the last quarter, but they will definitely be interested in how many more students in the class like jelly beans than chocolate kisses.
Bar and line graphs are a great way for children to learn how information is gathered and organized. Preschoolers first practice sorting, and then practice using a graph to organize the “data” they have collected by sorting. Finally, preschoolers learn counting skills and number identification by working with graphs.
Good graphing lesson plans for preschoolers give you the lesson plans and the centers, as well as smaller daily math activities to keep your students learning. Preschoolers should learn to read a graph, as well as how to create one of their own. From graphing colors to graphing sets of “random” items, it is creative and well thought-out.
Penguin Themed Graphing Activity for Preschoolers
Whenever I’m looking for winter math activities for preschoolers, I always try to include a graphing activity. By wintertime in the school year, most preschoolers are plenty ready for formal instruction in graphing. This activity is a simple graph for preschoolers to make.
- free graphing printable from the end of this post
- small counting manipulative
Just print the graphing printable in color on heavy cardstock. Assemble the dice with glue or tape. Set out the printable with the dice and a small bowl of counting manipulatives. We used blue glass floral pebbles from the dollar store, but you can also use mini erasers, transparent counters, magnetic push pins, pom poms for snowballs — anything really.
But I like to keep it winter themed or penguin themed, just for the added fun. Here are some of our favorite manipulatives!
Don’t Forget About Penguin Picture Books
I love adding literacy components to our preschool math activities. Here is a list of our favorite penguin picture books for preschoolers.
How to use This Graphing Printable – Race to the Top
Race to the Top games are an interactive way to teach preschoolers basic graphing skills. Here’s how to play.
- Roll the dice and identify the cute penguin.
- Find the corresponding penguin on the graphing sheet and add a counter. (Practice those fine motor skills!)
- Continue until one of the penguin columns have reached the top of the graph.
This preschool activity is a fun learning activity that can also be played with two people. Preschoolers just take turns rolling the dice and then adding the data to their own graph. At the end of the game, they can compare their graphs and see which penguin won.
This alternative is a great graphing idea for kindergarteners, especially if you discuss the differences between the two graphs. This allows your kindergarten students to practice reading their own data in the graph.
This also doubles as a penguin counting activity since preschoolers can practice reading their own data on the graph. Here’s how I initially teach my preschoolers to read their graph.
- Which penguin has the least? The smallest amount? [The preschooler might point to the answer].
- How many does it have? [Preschoolers might count the number].
- I’d like to show you another way to figure that out without counting. [Point to the penguin icon at the bottom of the graph. Move your finger up the column, and then over to the left side where the numbers are.]
- See? It’s three. Do you think we can try that with another penguin?
It’s good for kids to use their counting skills in these preschool graphing activities, but it’s also good for them learn how to follow the x and y axis to read the bar graph as well.
Get Your Free Penguin Race to the Top Printable Here
Think you want to add this to your preschool penguin activities this winter? Preschoolers love learning about adorable penguins, so this counting game and graphing printable is a perfect addition to your winter themed lesson plans.
Fill out the form below and the pdf will be sent to your inbox. Then keep reading for more free winter activities and preschool graphing activities!
More Free Winter Theme Activities for Preschoolers
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.