Dear Family, your Operation Maths guide to Data

Dear Family, your Operation Maths guide to Data

Category : Uncategorized

Dear Family, given below is a brief guide to understanding the topic of data as well as some practical suggestions as to how you might support your children’s understanding at home. Also below, are a series of links to digital resources that will help both the children, and you, learn more about data. The digital resources are organised according to approximate class level:

Junior Infants to Second Class
You can also find class specific tips at the back of your child’s Operation Maths At Home book, for infants to second class, and in the Operation Maths Dear Family letters for third to sixth class.

Understanding Data

Data, as the name suggests, is all about information, and in maths it is about organising information in such a way that it is easy to read and interpret. Most of us are quite familiar with information from surveys, voting etc., presented in graphs, charts and tables in various print and digital media. But graphing is only one part of the data presentation and analysis process, and this process is essentially the same, whether at the junior or senior end of primary school, or even at a more advanced level of statistics:

  • It starts when someone ask a question, that doesn’t have an obvious and/or immediate answer. This could be a question like who do most people intend to vote for in the next election or what is the favourite colour of a group of people or which sweet occurs most often in a box.
  • Information is then collected relevant to the question. This may be collected via a digital or face-to-face survey. It may be collected from a large or small representative sample of people.
  • This collected information or data is represented in a structured way that makes it easier to read. This might be a type of graph, pie chart or table.
  • This represented data is then examined and compared (analysed and interpreted) in such a way as to be able to make statements about what it reveals and, in turn, to possibly answer the initial question; if the question remains unanswered, it may be necessary to re-start the process again, perhaps using different methods.

In the senior end of primary school the children will encounter more complex data and charts/graphs, while also analysing data in more complex ways, such as calculating the average (also know as mean), in 5th & 6th class, and identifying the most frequently occurring value in a data set (also known as mode) in 6th class.

Practical Suggestions for Supporting Children

  • Let’s get organised! As mentioned earlier, data is all about organising information in an easy-to-interpret way. So any activities which involve sorting or organising can become a data analysis activity, for example:
    • What lollipop flavour/colour occurs most often in the bag (see image)? Ask your child to organise the lollipops in such a way that we can see the answer, without the need to count. This could be done with a box of wrapped sweets also, for example, Quality Street, Heroes, Celebrations etc. For more challenging questions, ask your child to tell you how many more/fewer of one type than another type.
    • What toy type do you have most of? When tidying up the toys, lay them out in rows alongside each other (parallel rows, similar to above), with the same type in each row. Of what toy type is there the most? The least?
    • Hat sort: Organise your hats into rows of winter hats and summer hats or hats with rims and hats without rims or even just according to colour. You can do something similar with other clothes types also.
    • You can also organise buttons or Lego pieces or building blocks in a similar way …. or any suitable material you may have at home.
  • Real-world examples: Anytime you come across any examples of the data process, share these experiences with your children. It could be completing a review (survey) for an online purchase or a holiday stay. It could be survey or election results you come across on the internet, radio or TV. If a graph is used, ask your child to tell you the type of graph it is and to tell you what they notice, or can tell, from the information shown.
  • League tables (soccer, GAA, rugby), are an ideal example of data presented in a table. Look at a table of results together, ask your child to interpret the information given, what it tells us, and what the various headings mean. Discuss an upcoming game: if your preferred team wins, how will that affect the table?
  • Planning a party and not sure what to do or where to go? Why not ask your child to survey his/her playmates with 3 or 4 possible options and then use the collated results to determine the destination?
  • Do a survey: You could do a traffic survey outside your house or a bird watch survey in your back garden. Or just encourage your child to come up with their own questions that they would like to answer. Survey your friends and family and then graph/present the collected information. Digital technologies (for example Microsoft Excel and Google Docs/Sheets) make it very easy to create a variety of very effective graph types.

Digital Resources for Infants

Fruit Fall Pictograph Game | 2nd Grade Math Games | Toy TheaterFruit Fall: A simple game where the fruit that is caught is laid out in rows on a grid.


Curious George . Hat Grab | PBS KIDSCurious George – Hat Grab: Help George grab hats to make a graph


I Know It - Home | FacebookI Know It – Reading Picture Graphs:  A review game/quiz. You can also try out a similar quiz here on block graphs.


IXL | Maths and English Practice

Graphs: a selection of games from ixl.com. You can do a number of free quizzes each day without having a subscription. (Please note that the class levels given do not always align accurately with the content of the Irish Primary Curriculum.) 

Digital Resources for First and Second Classes

Picture graphs (video) | Khan AcademyKhan Academy – Picture Graphs: Watch the videos and then answer the practice questions. You can also register for a free Khan Academy account to record your progress and explore other topics.


SoftSchools: Free online games, worksheets and quizzes | Paths to ...Pictograph Game 


Interactive Math Lesson | Reading Bar GraphsI Know It – Reading Picture Graphs:  A review game/quiz. You can also try out a quiz here on basic bar graphs and more advanced bar graphs.


KS2 Maths Quizzes for Primary School Students - Years 3 to 6

Handling Data – Quiz: Test yourself on what you know about data. Another similar quiz is also available here.


ThatQuiz.org | Amazing automatic quiz generator! Awesome fun ...

That Quiz – Graphs: This quiz has lots of options, on the left hand side, that can be changed to suit the ability of the child. From the options on the left hand side select pictogram, how many, difference, minimum, maximum, easier content. Do the set 10 questions, if you get 10 or 9 correct go up a level, and/or choose normal content.


IXL | Maths and English PracticeIXL.com – Graphs: a selection of interactive quizzes. You can do a number of free quizzes each day without having a subscription. (Please note that the class levels given do not always align accurately with the content of the Irish Primary Curriculum.) 

Digital Resources for Third to Sixth Classes

Pie ChartMaths is Fun – Data: Background information on using and handling data.


Represent and interpret data | 3rd grade | Math | Khan AcademyKhan Academy – Data: A unit of work including video tutorials and practice questions. You can also register for a free Khan Academy account to record your progress and explore other areas and/or try more difficult material.


ThatQuiz.org | Amazing automatic quiz generator! Awesome fun ...That Quiz – Graphs: This quiz has lots of options, on the left hand side, that can be changed to suit the ability of the child. Ensure that the level is set to 1. Each time do the set 10 questions, if you get 10 or 9 correct go up a level, if not stay at that level. There are lots of different types of activities: it automatically starts on bar charts, and you can choose pictogram, line (trend graph), circle (pie chart), multi-bar also. There are many question options also: plot, how many, difference, minimum, maximum, mean (average, 5th up) and mode (6th class).


This is an image from this resource on the Internet4Classrooms ...Softschools.com – Tally Chart Game:  on this site you can also answer questions on a Favourite Colours Bar Chart, and Favourite Vegetables Bar Chart


nteractive Math Lesson | Interpreting Bar GraphsI Know It – Graphing: A bar graph interactive quiz


Bar Charts - MathsframeBar Charts: From Maths Frame, answer the questions on both vertical and horizontal bar charts; it also has both one-step and two-step questions. 


How to Make a Simple Graph or Chart in ExcelHow to make a graph using MS Excel: a tutorial


Insert Graphs in Google Docs Using Google Sheets - YouTubeHow to make a graph using Google Docs/sheets: a video tutorial.


ITP Line Graph - MathsframeInteractive programme to create line (trend) graphs


ITP Data Handling - MathsframeInteractive programme to create bar/pie charts 


Create a Graph Classic-NCES Kids' ZoneCreate a Graph: Online graph creation facility that also allows you to print finished product.


Digging Deeper into ... Representing and Interpreting Data (3rd ...Averages and Bar Models: Video tutorial on how bar models can be used to solve problems involving averages.


I Know It – Averages: A quiz on calculating averages


KS2 Maths Quizzes for Primary School Students - Years 3 to 6Handling Data – Quiz: Test yourself on what you know about data


IXL | Maths and English Practice

IXL.com – Graphs: a selection of interactive quizzes. You can do a number of free quizzes each day without having a subscription. (Please note that the class levels given do not always align accurately with the content of the Irish Primary Curriculum.) 


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