Developing Early Math Skills: A Graphing Experiment for Kids

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Graphing sounds like a complicated skill to learn for a preschooler, but it can actually be an engaging and easy skill to grasp!

Graphing involves using different types of graphs to represent data and information. As a result, it is important to teach young children this skill at an early age to ensure they have a solid foundation in math.

This is an easy experiment to set up and can have tons of different applications! You can use this experiment for comparing different foods, things you can find in the yard, or just about anything else you can imagine. The possibilities are endless with graphing!

building and filling in a graph math experiment for kids and preschoolers

How to make the Graphing Experiment for Preschoolers math experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you will need the following:

  • A collection of small objects (toy cars, rubber ducks, pencils, etc.)
  • A large piece of paper or cardboard (or tape together four pieces of printer paper)
  • Markers or crayons
  • A ruler or measuring tape
Supplies needed for the Graphing math experiment

Before you start

This is a great experiment to allow your child to do most of the work. They should find the small objects to use (you can help if everything is the same size and/or color), they should measure, and they could even draw out the graph with some guidance!

This will give them ownership over the experiment and help drive the concept home.


Here are the steps to do the graphing math experiment with your child:

Step 1: Pick out your items to use in the experiment

Begin by collecting a variety of small objects. The objects should be different in size, shape, and color. For example, you could collect toy cars, rubber ducks, pencils, and building blocks.

We decided to look at the color and size of small toys we found.

Get your preschooler involved: Allow your child to pick out several, if not all of the objects needed for this experiment. If everything seems to be the same size/color/shape, step in and pick a few things that are different.

Step 2: Create your graph

Making your graph. We chose colors and size to graph.

Lay out a large piece of paper or cardboard on a flat surface. This will be the graphing board for the experiment.

Using a marker or crayon, draw a graph on the paper. The graph should have a horizontal and vertical axis with equal intervals. The horizontal axis should represent the size of the objects, while the vertical axis should represent the color of the objects. Label each axis and show your child how and what you are labeling.

Get your preschooler involved: If they’re able to, have your child draw the graph. You could line it out in pencil and have them trace along your pencil line.

Step 3: Start placing objects on the graph in the correct location

Measuring each object to place on the graph

Next, use a ruler or measuring tape to measure each object’s size from end to end. If you haven’t advanced to using a ruler and/or measuring tape and assigning a standard measuring unit (like inches), you could always use Unifix cubes for your measuring.

Once we have each object’s measurement, we observe its color and then place it in the right spot on the graph.

Step 4: Make observations

Making observations on our graph

Once all the objects are placed on the graph, ask your child to look over the graph and identify patterns.

For example, they may notice that larger objects tend to be a certain color or that smaller objects tend to be a different color. They could even look at just the types of objects and where they fall on the graph.

We decided to use dots around the graph to show where the toys were, since it was crowding our graph. As long as you can remember where everything went when it comes time to make comparisons!

The math behind the Graphing Experiment for Preschoolers math experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • Developing observation and comparison skills
  • Basic math skills
  • Understanding how data representation works

How it works

Graphing involves counting, sorting, categorizing, and comparing objects based on different characteristics. In our experiment, we are comparing small toys by looking at their color and their size.

From there, we can make observations on any patterns we see (are all the red objects bigger than the green objects?).

Developing observation and comparison skills

The activity of graphing objects requires children to look at objects closely and compare their basic characteristics, like size and color in our case.

This helps in developing their observational skills and helps them learn to differentiate between objects based on specific characteristics.

Basic math skills

Graphing involves basic mathematical concepts like measurement, counting, and plotting on a coordinate grid.

These basic math skills are wrapped up in this math experiment, by having your child complete a few observations, like measuring and color sorting, before placing the objects on the grid.

Understanding how data representation works

Graphing is a way of representing data in a visual form, which helps preschoolers understand how information can be organized and presented in different formats.

This helps them develop an understanding of how to interpret graphs and charts, which is an important skill for future academic and real-world situations.

More math experiments testing observation and comparison skills to try out with your child

FAQ about the Graphing Experiment for Preschoolers math experiment

How do you introduce a graph to a child?

Begin by talking about what the lines on the graph mean. Explain that each axis is a describing the objects we picked out for the experiment, like color and height. When we measure our objects and find out their color, we can place them in the correct spot on the graph. This is how we can compare lots of objects and find out their similarities and differences!

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