Kids Math: Introduction to Graphs

You'll use graphs in science and social studies classes, as well as in math to display information in a visual way. Keep reading to learn about how you can use line graphs and bar graphs.

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Graphing for Kids

Graphs help you organize and understand information. For example, if you measured the height of a plant every day for a week, you could record your observations in a table and then make a graph to display that information.

There are two main types of graphs that you'll use: line graphs and bar graphs. You can use line graphs to show how something changes over time, like the growth of a plant. Bar graphs can also be used to show how things change over time or to compare things that are in different categories.

Bar Graphs

Bar graphs usually use vertical bars to show information. For instance, to make a bar graph showing the number of minutes you spend reading each day, you could list the days of the week along the horizontal axis (the line that goes side to side) and the number of minutes along the vertical axis (the line that goes up and down). Then, you would draw a vertical bar for each day. The height of each bar would correspond to the number of minutes that you spent reading that day.

You could also use a bar graph to compare the number of students who earned different letter grades on a test. The tallest bar would indicate the grade that the largest number of students received, and the shortest bar would represent the grade that the fewest students got.

Line Graphs

Like bar graphs, line graphs have horizontal and vertical axes, but they do not display information using bars. You display information on a line graph by marking points on the graph and connecting those points with a line. Usually, time is represented on the graph's horizontal axis, and the other information is represented on the vertical axis.

For example, you could use a line graph to show how much a plant grew each day of the week. You would list the days of the week on the graph's horizontal axis, and the height of the plant would be represented on the vertical axis. If the plant was 2-centimeters tall on Monday, you would make a dot on the graph directly above 'Monday' on the horizontal axis and directly to the right of the 2-centimeter point on the vertical axis. You would repeat this process for each of your observations, and then use a ruler to connect the dots that you made.

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