Teaching Primary Students to Analyze Data

Analyzing data is an important life skill... and learning how to do can and should start early in the primary grades.   I use the 5 C's of data to help kids learn the process of analyzing data: Create, Collect, Count, Compare, and Communicate.  Let's take a closer look at each of these and what it looks like in the K-2 classroom.


Data Anchor Chart

During our 2nd grade math block last year, we talked about analyzing data using the 5 Cs: Create, Collect, Count, Compare, and Communicate.  This is just a helpful guide to help kids understand the process of analyzing data.  Sometimes we do all of those.  Sometimes, we skip to comparing data that's already been created, collected and counted for us.  But all of these are important steps that even adults go through to analyze data.


When we talked about this in 2nd grade, we made the connection to my husband's job.  He does data analysis all day every day for Walmart.  And many people depend on his analyses to be correct so that they right amount of the right things get on the shelves! :) (no pressure, right??)  So, data analysis is a life-long skill that we use as adults.  


Here's a look at what our anchor chart looks like.  (You can find the template for this here.)


Collect the Data

Collecting data can be as simple as asking "Would you rather?" questions and tallying answers as a class.  For group or independent work, I love having hands on tools to help them collect the data.  With my 2nd grader last year, we used legos because he's obsessed with lego building right now.


He grabbed a handful of legos, measured them and tallied the results!



Count & Compare the Data

After the data has been collected, we are ready to count and compare the data.  When we first work on this, I give the kids the "collected data" so that they can just focus on the counting and comparing.  Here's a peek at a graph I've used in kindergarten and first.


And in 2nd grade last year, our comparing got a little more in depth.


Communicate the Results

Once kids have been exposed to "filling in" a variety of data display types, it's time to really focus on analyzing each display type.  We talk about how to recognize a pie chart versus a bar graph.  We talk about when it would be best to use tallies and when it would be better to use a table or bar graph.


One of the first things we do when focusing on data displays is sort them together.


Then, the kids have a chance to match data displays independently during our guided math hands-on time.


You can find these graphing activities in my 2nd grade Guided Math Plans and additional, seasonally themed graphing printables here.




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