Line Plots in Action!

Something new in our curriculum this year due to the Common Core is creating and using "line plots".  This isn't something I have done in the past, so I was trying to figure out some fun ways to help my students understand the concept.  There are lots of great ideas out there on the internet, so I snagged one and tweaked it a little!

When we got back into our classroom from lunch today, I asked the students to take out a pencil and their ruler and to measure the pencil to the nearest 1/4 inch.

I asked them to jot the number down on a scrap of paper and then I showed them the number line foundation for the number plot.  I then invited all the students to come up and move an "X" to the correct location on the line plot (The "x" is cloned...for you fellow Smartboard users).

We then stepped back, and I asked them to look at the completed line graph and to tell me what information could be gathered from the graph.  As the students came up with ideas, I recorded them--and it took a little teeth pulling to get some ideas rolling!

This was a great review of some of those "data landmarks" terms from earlier this year--terms that very obviously needed review!  So then I showed them the advantage of a line plot--that we can really see how much each and every data point is worth.  I reminded them that each "X" represents ONE pencil and asked them 

"How far would our pencils stretch if we lined them up end to end?"

Without telling them more, I sent them on their way to work with their teams and I sat back and listened.  They had some great strategies!  I saw everything from

NOT the right answer, but a cool strategy!

to students "grouping" the numbers in a huge variety of ways.  Some added each "value" (added up all the 4 1/2's and so on), some added in chunks . . . like this

and we ended up with MANY different answers!  It became a great lesson in how to keep work organized, how to be "systematic" with what you are doing, and also a great ESTIMATION lesson.  I asked them how long a line of 21 pencils would be if each were a foot long--and then what if each were only 1/2 a foot long.  We looked at our line plot and decided our answer should be pretty close to that.

I then sent them back to work to finish and asked them to figure out how many inches AND how many feet and inches (back to our measurement conversion lessons!) that line of pencils would be. For those who finished early, I asked them to consider the following:

All in all, it was a pretty cool 35 minute math lesson--and we will follow up tomorrow with some more "hands on" line plot activities.  Hope everyone had a great Monday!


  1. So simple, yet effective. I try every day to get my team to stray from their worksheets and use what they have at hand. What you are doing is really "sticking" with those children. It's your ability to inspire other teachers through your blog that continues to impress me. Keep documenting your process. People are paying attention and following in your footsteps.

    1. Mr. Hodge, your kind words have made my day. Sometimes it's easy to forget that even my little "piece of cyberspace" might make a difference on any given day for someone. Thank you...I'm printing this off to reread on my "less than perfect" days!

  2. This is a very engaging way to teach students about line plots. This concept is new for me too and I think I will try this activity this week to review line plots since we have MAP testing next week. Thanks so much for sharing! Love your blog!!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I'll see how tomorrow's activities go! Cross your toes!

  3. The giveaway looks great! Nice idea with the "bring a friend"... I haven't seen that before. Good luck!