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Broadbent Maths - creative primary maths

Handling data and modelling bar charts

Friday, 6 December 2013

The process of gathering data and then representing it as a graph can be a difficult thing to model. Children are often able to interpret graphs, but not really have a feel for what the graph represents or how it was generated. 
Physically arranging a selection of children, shapes or objects into columns according to chosen criteria is one way of doing it, and can help make sense of the process for children. I saw a good alternative in a lesson I observed yesterday, using a piece of software I haven’t seen for a few years.

The teacher used Furbles, a program devised by Alec McEahran back in 2003 (, to generate shapes with different numbers of eyes and colours. The strength of the program is the simple way the Furbles move from their random position to columns or as a pie chart to show them in graphical form. 

It was definitely a good way of demonstrating the process.
The Y2 children I spoke to had a good understanding of the purpose of bar charts and how to record data using them. There is also something very endearing about the little shapes with blinking eyes that follow your mouse!
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