Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about line graphs. It is designed to complement the Line Graphs topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Before beginning this topic, you may want to use the Tally Charts and Bar Graphs and Pictographs movies for review. This movie will introduce line graphs and teach how to read and create them. It will also show how line graphs can be used to answer questions about data. We recommend watching the movie through several times as needed and then have children collect their own data and display the information in a line graph.

Remind children that a line graph is a graph that uses points and lines to show data. Explain that we might use a pictograph or a bar graph to help compare information about different groups. For example, we might use a bar graph to display how many votes each candidate received in an election or display the number of people who chose red, blue, or green as their favorite color. We use a pie chart to compare parts of a whole. For example, we might use a pie chart to show the number of boys and girls in a class. Explain that we use a line graph to track how a group or category changes over a period of time. For example, we might use a line graph to show how the temperature changes during the day or how the population of a town changes year after year. Have children bring in examples of line graphs and analyze them as a class.

Review the different parts of a line graph. Share a sample line graph and study it together. The title describes what is in the graph. Remind children that on a graph, an axis is a line that has number or categories. The x-axis is the horizontal line that runs across the bottom. The y-axis is the line that goes up and down. The points on a line graph show information in reference to the axes.

Help children read a line graph and understand the data it presents. Show how to find a point on the graph and look at where the point lines up along the x-axis and y-axis. Stress the importance of looking at the scale on a graph. The scale shows how the numbers are organized on the axis. Some numbers might go up by twos, fives, tens, or even hundreds. Some numbers may go up by ones, but not start at 0. Be sure children look at the scale carefully as they look where the point lines up along the axis.

Explain to children that graphs help us answer questions about data. They help us visualize information so we can see it more easily. It’s much easier to determine how data changes over time by looking at a line than at a series of numbers on a chart. Line graphs can help us find patterns or trends and make decisions based on them. For example, if a line graph shows that more and more students are trying out for the soccer team every season, then the school might want to add another team.

Help children develop their visual literacy skills. Encourage them to look for line graphs in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet. Have them interpret the information on the graphs and describe different points. Why is displaying data on a line graph helpful? Why might using a line graph instead of a chart be easier for readers to understand?