The Plot Thickens: Teaching Statistics Using Math Games

How can teachers make statistics understandable and interesting for kindergarten students? The objective of the curriculum unit, “The Plot Thickens: Teaching Statistics Using Math Games,” is three fold:  to examine the importance of teaching statistics in a kindergarten classroom, to provide an analysis of how kindergarten students learn math and to explore the implications of using games to teach statistical information. My unit will concentrate on math games that use everyday, real-world situations that play with data to teach core statistical concepts. The students will collect, organize, and display data using concrete objects, surveys, charts, and graphs.

In alignment with the National College-Career Ready Common Core Standards and the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, this unit will provide a literature-rich based program for teaching concepts in basic statistics to students in a full day, self-contained kindergarten classroom.  The unit can be introduced at anytime throughout the academic year as there are many opportunities to play with mathematical ideas regardless of students various abilities or performance levels. The unit is essentially the development of a “data box,” consisting of center activities, clip boards for surveys, individual journals for writing and recording results, spinners, and dice for small group center experiences, whole group instruction, or individualized activities. Each lesson begins with a read-aloud from a popular picture book and the activities are based on each story.

There are five lessons. The first lesson explores children’s collections and an introductory model to display such data. The second activity demonstrates the art of taking and giving surveys based on a story called, Guess Who My Favorite Person Is by Byrd Baylor. The next lesson provides an opportunity to examine probability by playing a basketball game. What are the chances of making the basket from various points on a number line? Activity four is a clothesline display of paper doll clothes in order to graph the number of family members for each student. The last activity is the creation of a classroom mural by following a grid using rows and columns.

Klair McGlynn
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