Bulletin Board Bar Graph

This can be as simple (read: quick) or complicated (read: time-consuming) as you desire to make it.

One of the reasons that I love storytelling so much is that it lends itself very easily to designing student-created vocabulary lists. Any given story, with just two or three target structures, can easily be expanded into an entire vocabulary unit. When learning the structure “tiene miedo de” (is afraid of), you can find out what your students fear. Their list of fears can become an entire vocabulary unit in and of itself, if you so choose, and it is more valuable than a textbook-created unit because you already know that the words in it matter to the students.

A great cross-curricular activity to do whenever you poll your class on something (like what they’re afraid of, where they want to go on vacation, how many siblings they have, etc.) is to create a bar graph. I have found that the easiest and most fun way to do this is by creating a “bulletin-board” bar graph. To do this…

  1. Have students draw a picture of their “vote” (what they’re afraid of, where they want to go on vacation….etc.). It can be labeled or not, and it can be a quick sketch or a high quality drawing. It should be done on a fairly small piece of paper (post-it notes work well, or I use quarter-pages) so that the finished product won’t be monstrous.
  2. Then, you simply collect all of the pictures and form a bar graph from them: stack all of the spiders on top of each other in one column, the “dark” next to them, and ghosts beside them (I’m giving fear examples, if you didn’t guess!). You can tape them up on your board (or post-it them on, if you used sticky notes) or create a longer-lasting, more visually stimulating one on a bulletin board in your room or in the hallway.
  3. If the bar graph is on your board, you can ask students questions about it while they look at it. If not (or if you need your precious board space!), take a picture of it and either project it or print out individual copies. In the picture, you can see a handout that I created using a picture of a graph with information about what natural dangers my students thought that people fear most in Alaska.

To meet Common Core Standards, students must be literate in all forms of media: charts and graphs, cartoons, advertisements, infographs, etc. This activity gives them an opportunity to practice that standard. Additionally, you will make the math teachers at your school happy by asking math questions about the graph using word problems.


  1. I LOVE this idea and will use it – maybe today! You said “collect the pictures and form a bar graph;” I will have my students physically put their post-its up so that THEY make the graph :D. Just an idea. I love reading your posts!


  2. […] Bar Graph Q & D. Instead of just discussing a topic, students write their response on a Post-It, then you collect and arrange on board in a bar graph (e.g. 10 kids like vanilla, 4 kids like chocolate, 1 kid likes mint chocolate chip, and 1 kid doesn’t like ice cream). A prep-intensive follow-up would be to take a pic of the board, and create a doc with comp questions about the graph (e.g. what percent of the class likes vanilla?). Otherwise, it just stays on the board as a visual to discuss a topic (see Kristy Placido’s Physical Organizers, below). […]


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