Minds On

Examining graphs

Examine the three different types of graphs below. Use the following questions to guide you.

  • What do you notice?
  • What questions do you have?

Throughout this learning activity, you can record your thoughts digitally, orally, or in print.

An image of three graphs. The 1st is an ascending bar graph. The 2nd is a pie graph with four sections. The 3rd is a scatterplot that has a positive line of fit.

Using graphs to tell a story

Graphs tell a story about data. Examine each graph and record any observations you make using a method of your choice. What information do you think this graph is trying to convey?

Let’s examine another graph. What might this information be indicating? What story do you think this graph is trying to tell? You can record your responses using a method of your choice.


What should a graph include?

In the following episode of TVO’s Odd Squad, the Mobile Unit gets ranked low by the Odd Squad Magazine. As you explore the video, keep track of the graphs that you observe as well as their components or parts. You can record your observations using a method of your choice.

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast the two graphs. For example, what does one graph have that the other does not? Which graph provides more information? Explain your thinking.

An image of a graph titled “Boiling Point of Liquids.” This graph shows the boiling points of different liquids.

An image of a graph that displays five bars indicating some sort of data and three horizontal lines that might indicate specific values.

What do graphs need?

Graphs need: labels, a source, a title, and an appropriate scale.

Press ‘Components of a Graph’ to reveal the different parts that make up the whole graph.

Components of a graph

Labels are used to identify what the x-axis and the y-axis are measuring.

The source identifies where the data came from.

The title identifies what the graph is about.

A system of marks or numbers that show the relation between the units being used and their representation on the graph.

(For example, if the range goes to 200, the scale for the axis showing the data might go in increments of 10, instead of increments of 1, up to 200 or greater).

Different types of graphs

A broken line graph

A broken line graph is formed by line segments that join points to show how it changes over time.

A pictograph

A pictograph uses pictures or symbols to represent data values.

An image of a pictograph showing the number of pencils used in a classroom over the course of a year.

A bar graph

A bar graph consists of horizontal or vertical bars that represent the frequency of an event or outcome.

A stacked bar graph

A stacked bar graph combines two or more bar graphs to compare two or more aspects of data of the same topic.


Examining a stacked bar graph

Explore the differences between a regular bar graph and a stacked bar graph. When would you use a stacked bar graph? Record your thoughts and ideas using a method of your choice.

Making graphs

The Grade 1 and 8 students in a school were surveyed about their favourite recess activity.


Grade 1

Grade 8

Four square












Jump rope



Work independently and use this data to make a stacked bar graph. You can create the graph using a method of your choice.

Press ‘Example’ to reveal an example of a stacked bar graph.


Practice time

Conduct your surveys and select the suitable graph

Conduct a survey to gather information about how to make a positive change in your community. Then, select the most appropriate graph to use to convey the data. Explain your thinking using a method of your choice. You can also use audio or written description to record your thoughts.

Note: if you do not have access to people to survey, you can skip this task and move to the multiple-choice questions.

Multiple choice questions

Select the most appropriate graph for each scenario.

Reflection questions

Use the following questions to reflect on the different types of graphs we explored in this Learning Activity.

  • When would you use a stacked bar graph instead of a double bar graph?
  • How does a line graph differ from a bar or stacked bar graph?
  • How do you determine which graph is best?


As you read through these descriptions, which sentence best describes how you are feeling about your understanding of this learning activity? Press the button that is beside this sentence.

I feel…

Now, record your ideas using a voice recorder, speech-to-text, or writing tool.

Press ‘Discover More’ to extend your skills.

Make a graph of your choice for one of the scenarios in the multiple-choice questions. You can make up your own data to complete it. Create your graph using a method of your choice. You can also record detailed audio or written description of the data.