Fun with Pictographs

A pictograph uses a small picture of some kind to symbolize a number of items.  Being able to read a pictograph is a concept learned early on in elementary math, but it can be a bit confusing at first.  Practicing with pictographs at home can make the concept more hands-on and easier to understand.

How To Make a Pictograph

Divide a paper into columns leaving room across the bottom of the paper.  Each column should be labeled with the item being counted in that column.  The very top of the paper should have the title for the entire graph. (A pictograph about favorite pets would have PETS across the top.  Each column would then be labeled with a common pet animal like dog, cat, fish, etc.)  Then pictures are used in each column to show how many items belong in that item. (In our pet pictograph, four pictures in the dog column would mean that four children have dogs as their favorite pets.)

Making a Playful Pictograph

To make pictographs more fun, you could make the lines of the chart out of yarn.  Then use small toys like small blocks or Barbie shoes for the pictures.  An edible pictograph could be make out of licorice strings and Cheerios or small candies.  A simpler version would be to still use lines drawn on paper, but use stickers as the pictures.

Choosing the Pictograph Topic

Anything that can be sorted and counted could be drawn into a pictograph.  You could make a graph about how many candies of each color are in a package, how many of each type of plastic animal your child has in his room, or many of each type of vegetable plant you have in your garden.  Just make sure you label each pictograph with the topic you have chosen.

Pictograph Questions

Once your child has put together the pictograph, talk with your child about what it means.  Ask you child questions like how many children prefer dogs as pets?  How many children like dogs or cats as pets?  Do more children like dogs or cats?  How many more children like dogs instead of cats?  Questions like these give you chances to make sure that your child understands how to count the pictures on the graph and come up with reasonable answers.

More Challenging Pictographs

As your child masters reading a simple pictograph, make it more challenging by making each symbol on the graph worth two or even three objects.  If each symbol was worth two, then a column that has five pictures above dogs would mean that 10 children would choose a dog for a pet.  This will keep your child thinking about the graph and what the pictures mean instead of just counting mindlessly.

Your child will have fun building their own pictographs to work with and they will be practicing important skills in the process.  What favorite objects would you use on your child’s pictographs?

Check Smart Tutor Elementary Math Curriculum and Free Math Games

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