30 Seconds From Mars


Data Analysis for Kindergartners

Direct observation is an important piece of mathematical learning. This is important for identifying patterns, promoting problem solving and developing spatial reasoning.

One method of connecting observation to math is collecting data outdoors. Examples super abound. For instance, students may use numbers to help them count and record the number of petals found in each flower, they may use nonstandard measurement devices to examine the circumference of trees or simply collect data about outdoor things that have ABAB patterns.

To begin the outdoor  exercise, the teacher writes  “data” on the board and points out all the data the children had already collected, i.e., information on the weather chart, birthday charts, etc. He/she then explains that data helps you learn something you did not know before.

The teacher next asks the children if there is anything about animals in the schoolyard they did not know. Responses range from how high is an anthill, how big are caterpillars, how much do some animals weigh, what animals we can see, and what animals we can hear.
Sorting data is a great way to encourage children to think about important features that can lead to classification. Once the children have made their decision on what to sort (what animals we can see, and what animals we can hear), the next step is to decide how they are going to keep track of the data. In this instance they decided to draw a line down the middle of the paper and write the name or draw animals they saw on one side and animals they heard on the other.

Incidentally, the questions the teacher asks throughout the process of formulating a question, collecting and representing data and interpreting data is crucial.

Here are some  samplings:

“What kind of animals do you think we might find in the schoolyard?”
“How can we keep track of what we see?”
“If we wanted to draw a picture to show another class what we saw, how would we do this?”
For more refined classification ask, “Which of these animals are insects?” “How do we know?” “Which are the largest?”

Later, the whole class shares their findings. As they think about their findings and discuss these with classmates, they have reached the rudimentary stage in data analysis.

The process of data collection gives children the opportunity to think like mathematicians and apply reasoning about data in the real world. It also introduces them to more abstract ideas as they sort and classify information, create graphs, compare data sets, examine patterns and interpret graphical representations.

-Carole Basile


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