Graphing, Counting, Keeping Track, Connecting Concepts

I had the pleasure of observing a wonderful first grade teacher today, Mrs. L. She is seamlessly integrating authentic data, math and her SmartBoard into daily lessons as well as making and connecting year long concepts.

Students at our school are encouraged to bring non perishable food items on Fridays for donation to the local food pantry. The teacher created  a simple page in SmartBoard notebook:

  • Added the “grid-medium”  paper as the background
  • Added numbers on the left side, starting with 1 at the bottom

Food Donation Graph1

  • After counting the donated food items, choose the shape tool in your toolbar to draw a bar as tall the the number of the bars counted.

Food Donation Graph2

  • choose the bucket tool
  • select “solid fill”
  • choose the desired color
  • click inside the bar to fill it with previously selected color

Food Donation Graph3

Each rectangle is one square wide and exactly as many squares tall as the food items collected each week.


Each week students count out load the food items collected. They sort them into different categories, such as pasta, cereals, cans, etc. One student comes up to the SmartBoard and creates a rectangle, representing the number of overall items collected. The rectangle is than moved to be placed adjacent to the last week’s bar.

The teacher asks questions such as:

  • Which week had the most/least items collected?
  • How many items did this/last week have (three weeks ago?)?
  • How many more did the”green” week have than the “blue” week?
  • Let’s compare the “red” and the “blue” week. Which one has fewer/more items?
  • What sentence can we say about the week in “yellow”?

The teacher also lets students come up to the board to use their fingers to count “how many more” one rectangle has than another. You can allow them to physically drag one week’s rectangle over another to see which color looks out on top (make sure that the longer rectangle is on the bottom layer (right click > order > send to back)

As she is introducing new math concepts throughout the week, the teacher adds new related questions to the weekly update session of the Food Donation graph.

Download the SmartBoard Notebook file

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