Data is changing our world. While our youngest learners are just learning to count and write, they still need to build strong foundations for working with data. To help get them ready for future work in data science, focus on collecting and visualizing data.
"If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough."
— Albert Einstein
Use the following children's books as the basis for powerful storytelling that gets students to count, measure, and analyze information.
10 Black Dots - Donald Crews
In this fun text by Donald Crews, the reader sees dots incorporated into objects, as they count from one to ten. For example, "2 dots can make the eyes of a fox, or the eyes of keys that open locks."
After reading the story, give students 10 black dots, like in this Wixie template, to illustrate their own object and tell a story.
The Grouchy Ladybug - Eric Carle
In this story, Eric Carle describes the interactions of a grouchy ladybug and the other animals it meets, always saying, “Want to fight?” Most often teachers read this story in the classroom to discuss our feelings and our actions towards others, but you can use it to help students analyze time.
Begin by working with students to identify the animal the grouchy ladybug meets each hour of the day. Then, ask students to identify an activity they do at a specific time each day.
Have students draw a picture of the activity and identify the time using a clock. Then, have each student share their work and find classmates who chose the same time and talk about the similarities and differences in their experiences.
Older students can use this book as a model for a grouchy animal story that not only identifies the time something occurred, but the elapsed time between events!
When I Was One - A. A. Milne
In Now We are Six, A.A. Milne shares this poem:
When I was one, I just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now I’m six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now, forever and ever!
Assign Wixie's When I was One poetry template to use this fun rhyming structure to have students describe their real, remembered, or imagined experiences.
Five Creatures - Emily Jenkins
In this story, Emily Jenkins describes a family of five (two cats and three people) by comparing things they have in common and things they do not. For example,
“Five creatures live in our house. Three with orange hair, and two with gray. Two with long hair, three with short.”
Ask individual students to create their own data story about their family. First, they need to define the creatures (humans and pets) in their family. Then, identify traits they have in common and compare. Write a sentence for each trait and illustration to help the reader.
This is a great way to introduce students to data visualization as well.
This also makes a great get-to-know-you project for back-to-school or collaborative work. Ask a small group to collect data (template) on their team members to create a 5-creatures-style project about the attributes of the members of their team.
This is a helpful way to help students find and celebrate commonalities and differences amongst their peers.
Get Started with Your Favorite Story
Almost every student has sung "Five Little Monkeys (Jumping on the Bed)." It's easy to turn this into a counting and data visualization activity for young learners. (template)
You might also consider data stories created from classroom favorites like:
Then, come up with a sentence stem or idea to get your students to see the data in the world around them.