Human Graphs, Charts and Diagrams

There is a lot that we can do in maths with a group of children and a large space.  In this post I want to give you lots of ideas about how to look at different graphs and charts without using paper or screens.  Creating large scale graphs and charts allows you to move around it and to be part of the graph.  You can ask you students all the questions that you would normally ask while they are in the space.

Bar Charts (what are these?)

Ask your students a simple question: What if your favourite colour/animal/food…. Using ribbons create your X & Y axis on the floor. Label the X axis with the possible answers (yellow, green, blue…. if we are looking at colours).  Students stand (or lie down) in a line by their favourite colour.  Now label the Y axis with the number of students.  You have a Human Bar Chart.  What is the most popular colour?  If we got Mrs Brown’s class in here too, would we need to change the way we do our chart?  How could we adapt our labelling if we had 5 times more people in our chart?  How could we represent this on the chart? Can we fit everyone in?  Estimate how many people we could fit onto our chart before we needed a different approach? If we use your answers as an average for the school, can you predict how many people in the whole school will choose blue as their favourite colour?

Carroll Diagrams (what are these?)

Using ribbons on the floor, split the space into four quarters. All facing one wall, ask all the children who have at least one brother to stand on the left side of the room (to the left of the central ribbon) and the children who have no brothers to stand on the right.  Then ask all students that have at least one sister to move forward in front of the other ribbon and all that don’t have any sisters to move behind the ribbon.  See the diagram below…

Carroll Diagram

Students can see that they are in a quadrant of people who are in the same category as themselves.  You can then ask them to label the columns and rows.  Alternatively, give students a large number on a piece of paper/card each.  Then set the column/row labels to show properties of numbers.  For example, we have a carroll diagram that asks us to sort numbers according to “Odd/Even” and “Multiple of 3/Not Multiple of 3”.  Swap numbers around, swap column labels around, make it a quick fire numeracy game on a human Carroll Diagram.

Venn Diagrams (what are these?)

You can do this in the same way as the Carroll Diagrams.  Give students a number each, create circles of ribbons on the floor.  Label the circles in different ways to limit properties of numbers, so if we are looking at the same parameters as the Carroll Diagram above, then we could have two circles, overlapping, one labeled “multiples of 2” one labeled “multiples of 3”.  We can then ask the students to put themselves (holding a number) into the right space on the diagram – in a circle, in both circles, outside both circles.  We can easily add another circle “multiples of 4” – ask students, where does this circle need to go?  Why? How can we demonstrate a subset?

Again, we can do Venn Diagrams for other sorts of data – it doesn’t have to be just properties of number – this is merely an example.  Using properties of numbers is good mathematically as it requires and demonstrates mental arithmetic and an understanding of number as well as an understanding of the spacial graph/chart.

Scattergraphs (what are these?)

Gather data from your class – try shoe size & height.  Create a scattergraph by using ribbons to represent the X and Y axes.  Looking at the data that you have collected from the class, ask the students to decide what the range of each axis should be.  X axis can show shoe size.  Where do we start the labels?  0?  Or is our numberline for shoe sizes slightly different?  Do we need to go from C12 to A3?  (child and adult sizes)? The Y axis shows height.  Should we start this at 0? Why or why not?

Then students go and plot themselves on the graph, standing where they fall on the graph.  Now we have a human scattergraph.  Is there any correlation?  Where is the line of best fit?  Is there one?  If someone came that had size 6 shoes, could we predict how tall they might be? Why or why not?

Line Graphs (What are these?)

Select the data that you want to present.  These could be sales figures from the village shop for the last 5 years every quarter, for example. Look at the data, decide on the labelling of the axis and the range for each axis.  Plot the data on the graph.  You can join up the plotted points with another ribbon.  What judgements can we make about the data now we can see it presented on a graph?  Is revenue increasing or decreasing? Is there a particular time of year that the shop does well or struggles?  What do you predict the figures for the next 2 years will be if the the trend continues?

line graph

Please share your ideas with me about other ways to present charts, graphs and diagrams.  Any good ideas for pie charts?

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