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Bar Graphs and Pictographs Fun Activities

Bar Graphs and pictographs are popular graphical displays of data.  There are many activities that kids enjoy, be it graphing data collected from rolling numbers on a dice, tossing coins, or even interpreting class surveys.

But first, let’s clarify – 

  • What are pictographs and bar graphs?
  • How are bar graphs similar to pictographs?
  • Are picture graphs and pictographs the same?

What are bar graphs and pictographs?

The two types of graphs are very similar, the big difference being in how data is represented on both. 

In pictographs, data is shown as pictures or symbols. Interestingly, each picture or symbol stands for a certain number of items, and all you need to do is to look at the key to see the number of items represented. 

For example, this pictograph shows lunch choices in the school canteen. The key indicates that one smiley face represents 10 people. Although, there is no indication of how many people are represented in half a smiley face, one can work out that this would be 5 people based on the full face representation.


Like pictographs, bar graphs represent data too, however data is shown using bars of different heights. As a result, this makes it so easy to compare data, as one can make comparisons at a glance just by looking at the lengths of bars. 

For example, this bar graph shows data for the number of times dice numbers 1-6 are rolled when a six-sided dice is rolled 15 times. Then based on the outcome, data can be interpreted by reading the results on the graph.

bar graph graphping activities

With bar graphs, students can also compare different groups. For instance, a class vote can be taken on a favorite school canteen food for instance, or the best movie genre. A survey helps record findings which are then plotted on a bar graph. 

Comparisons can then be made at a glance. These graphs are also ideal for tracking changes for a longer period of time.

bar graphs class surveys

  bar graphs class surveys


How do you make a pictograph and bar graph?

Both graphs are easy to make. In this pictograph, students will represent the data on the table by drawing the number of apples to represent the number of students. The template makes it easy to just plot the data and also interpret it.


In the case of a bar graph, data needs to be plotted on the x-axis and y-axis. The category is plotted on the x-axis and the frequency on the y-axis. All students need to do is to represent data collected in the columns. This data can then be analyzed and interpreted.

Bar graph or pictograph? Which one is better?

To sum up, both graphs are useful when it comes to collecting and interpreting data. Bar graphs represent data visually in columns or bars, while in pictographs, data is represented by pictures or symbols.

Keep in mind however, if data is in thousands, for instance, plotting it on a pictograph would not be feasible, unless you are really into pictures and symbols. The better option, in this case, would be to represent all that data easily in a bar graph.

Free Bar Graph

What could be more effective than relating a bar graph activity to a real-life scenario. In this free bar graph activity, your students will get to go to the school car park and graph the different car colors. It’s fun to see which car color is the most popular.

A word of warning though, students will be more interested in finding out which car belongs to which teacher and need to be redirected to the task at hand. 

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And if you’re interested in having your students practice all kinds of graphs, this mega graph bundle will cover all your graphing needs for the year. There are bar graphs, pictographs, pie charts, line plots and line graphs.


graphing activities

Looking to ban the boring and teach writing that’s interesting? This post on writing strategies will show you how.

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