Designing our own shiny gem ornament graphs

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on December 15, 2012

in Christmas, Drawing Graphs, Holiday Ideas, Mathematics, Ornament Graphing

Did you know math can be shiny and beautiful?  Well it just so happens that in my classroom, math can be very shiny and beautiful when you are designing your own shiny gem ornament graph…

First of all, I should let you know that I had planned to print up some graphs for my students to use for this graphing activity but by the time math day came around, I never got around to making the graphs. So, I decided that I would invite my students to design their own graphs…

I started by giving the children some guidance on how to draw a graph using a ruler and a pencil. We talked about how to draw our lines so we had columns.  Now you may be thinking, “Isn’t this too hard for preschoolers?”  In the back of my mind, I had no idea how much of this my students would fully grasp but I wasn’t worried about whether or not they drew a graph like mine. My goal was to introduce the graph drawing process then let the children go off to the table  and interpret the process in their own way…

I also showed the children how I could spread my jewels out on the graph and then sort them into the columns. My large group graph designing lesson lasted all of about five minutes…

Then the children were off to the tables where they had paper, rulers, pencils, and a plastic ornament filled with about 20 jewels waiting for them to design their own graphs…

Every child did a remarkable job drawing their own graphs.  We had some that turned out very much like the graph I had drawn for them and others were a modified version of the graph I had demonstrated but all of the graphs were outstanding…

As each child completed his or her graph, they dumped their gems out of the ornaments and onto their paper to begin the process of sorting and graphing.  Some of the children completed their graphs quickly and others took their time to complete the graphs.  Each child made their own decision as to whether or not their graph was ready for sorting and graphing gems…

Then the children began sorting the gems on their graphs. Again, the way each child organized their gems depended on how his or her graph was designed…

Most of the children sorted their gems by the type or color of gem…

Some of the children sorted and lined their gems up in each column of their graph…

Other children sorted and grouped their gems into squares on their graphs…

As the children completed their graphs, Mrs. Courtney and I walked around and asked the children questions like “Which column on your graph has the most gems?”…

And “Which column on your graph has the least number of gems?”…

The process of designing their own graphs combined with the beautiful gems created an interesting process for the children to explore…

Points to Ponder

  • I do not recommend sitting children at a table and having them follow you step-by-step through a process like this.
Having the children follow you step-by-step doesn’t allow students to work at their own pace and it puts pressure on the children to perform or do what you do rather than encourage children to think for themselves and build their own understanding of the process. Having the children follow you step-by-step also removes the opportunity for you to observe the children and reflect or assess their understanding of the process because they are simply copying you.
  • I do recommend sharing a process such as this, in simple terms, from beginning to end and in as few steps as possible before sending the children off to explore or interpret the process on their own.

By letting the children explore the process on their own, you will be better able to observe what they understand, what they can do, and even evaluate what processes your students are mastering. You will also be better able to determine what processes you need to give the children more experiences with through alternative approaches…

  • And finally, it is important to keep in mind that my students have been exploring the graphing process through many different, hands-on activities like our button sorting shown below. Before jumping into a graphing process like what I have shared today, make sure you are exposing the children to plenty of sorting, organizing, and graphing processes through your centers, play, and other both small and large group activities.

Questions you may have

  • The gems and rulers are from the Dollar Tree
  • The clear plastic ornaments are from Walmart but we also used small, clear water bottles which were just as cool as the ornaments.
  • My students are between the ages of almost four to five.

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This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Promoting excellence in early childhood education at home and in the preschool classroom!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Lissa December 15, 2012 at 7:20 am

I love this idea!,, I love a lot of your creative ideas. I am a preschool teacher of 4and5 year olds ans they can absolutely handle a ruler, if we don’t let them try how will they learn. My children trace and cut all their own stuff thank you for all your ideas!!!!

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm

It is so nice to meet you Lissa! 4 and 5 year olds are at such a precious age! Enjoy them:)

3 Penny December 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm

What a fun and unique way to introduce graphs! I wish Miss Possum could be in your classroom!

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I wish Miss Possum could be in my classroom too:)

5 Jennifer January 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I love this blog! This graphing idea is fantastic! I teach 3 to 4 year-olds and they would love this. Thanks for sharing all your great skills!

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