Sunday, May 17, 2015

Letter Z is for Zoo. Introduction to Graphing for Preschoolers.

Fun with Zoo Animals: Visual Hands-on Math and Graphs

Visual and hands-on math - yes, perfect for little kids to learn classification, counting, and comparing. Preschool graphing is all about manipulating real objects and discussing real life experiences. But even with that, is it as easy for preschoolers to use graphs as it seems to an adult?  This post is a part of our "Creative ABCs" series found here: Creative ABCs.


Our introduction to bar graphs was smooth and easy. The skills in use: good understanding of the terms "row" and/or "column", one-to-one correspondence, some previous experience with simple classifying.

Practicing Rows and the Order of Objects with Zoo Animals

We were lucky to come across Animal Search and Learn Puzzle by The Learning Journey. It is the best puzzle for 3 year olds I've ever seen (prove me wrong: what's the favorite puzzle in your family?). Amazon affiliate link: Animals Search and Learn Puzzle by The Learning Journey.


Kids love this puzzle! It is perfect to play together at the play date. There are smiley animals divided into 4 colored rows. Even though there are 28 pieces, our almost 3 year olds managed it with minimal assistance; and it was very cute to watch them at work!

First, kids sorted puzzle pieces by color into 4 piles. Then, they worked with the order of animals - one row at a time. The questions we asked:

  • What color is the first row? (The pile with yellow pieces is placed in front of a child. If there are several players, each child gets several pieces.)
  • Learning the words: first, next, last. What is the first animal?
  • What is the next animal? What is the last animal?
  • What color is the next row? Last row?

This is the best part: children learned to refer to the picture on the box for the clues! In order to find the next animal, they had to locate the previous one in the particular row, then follow the row to find the next animal. Kids were so excited to find their answers all by themselves!


Fast forward several months:

  • What color is the first row? Second, third, forth?
  • What is the first, second, third... animal? Last animal?
  • Which animal is in between the turtle and the octopus?
  • Which animal is next to the starfish?
  • Which animal is before the jellyfish? After the quail?


Introduction to Graphing for Preschoolers

We made play mats together. Green and yellow construction paper is cut in half lengthwise. We cut out white circles and counted them before gluing: there are 5 circles on each paper.

Pictured below:
  • Look at all these toys! Do I have more people or more animals?
  • One way to find out is to make a graph. Let's explore graphing!
  • The yellow row is for people, and the green row is for animals.
  • This gorilla is an animal. It belongs in the green row.
  • In which row should I place this zoo keeper? Can you help me? etc.


Pictured below: Our graph shows that there are more people than animals. Let's count! There are 4 people and 3 animals. 4 is more than 3!

This graph shows there are more people. Graphs help us to place our objects so they are easier to count or compare. Do you want to play again?


More Fun Math with Zoo Animals

My Firefly had more fun math games with the zoo animals: which one is different? what comes next? They can be found here: http://www.3dinosaurs.com/printables/packs/zoo.php


My Firefly loved her graphing with Zoo Math! And it is all about developing the love of Math. You can find our previous Math activities here: Preschool Math Challenge with Pattern Blocks.

Visit our "Creative ABCs" series for more letter of the week fun and learning: Creative ABCs.

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