I am always trying to think of center ideas that can be used
several times by just changing the materials, giving the
children repeated practice without the boredom. Another plus is
that once I give the directions and children do it the first
time, they can be pretty independent after that.
For the graph center, I used yogurt cups to hold small
collections of manipulatives to graph--plastic animals in one,
pattern blocks in another, buttons, plastic fruit, colored
Then I made a large, four column blank graph (I made six of
these so that six students can work at once). On the top is a
line for the question or title. On the bottom of each column
are lines to write the choices. Numbers go up the left side. I
laminated these so students can use dri-erase markers to label
the graph. The students take one yogurt cup and place the items
on the real graph.
Next, I made an identical graph on 8 1/2x11 paper and ran off
lots of these, storing them in a zip-loc bag. The students make
a simple bar graph by coloring in one section to represent each
item on the real graph. They write their title and label the
choices on this graph.
Last, students write some sentences about their graph. We
practice making statements orally about graphs each morning, and
I have model sentences on a chart: There are more ___ than ___.
There are __ fewer ___ than ___. There are an equal number of
___ and ___. Etc.
As you can see, there is math and writing involved in this
activity, and children have to problem solve to determine how to
organize the contents of the yogurt cup to make a graph. Some
manipulatives can be graphed in more than one way (by color or
by shape, for example). The written graph and sentences are a
good assessment tool for me. This is a good center to put away
for a few weeks and get out again later on when children have had more experience with the oral language concepts. I hope that this is
helpful to some teachers out there!