All students initially learn best through hands-on activities. Go into any early elementary classroom and observe students during math class using counting blocks and other manipulatives. Students learning to use and create charts often use hands-on activities, such as the M&M bar graph activity (grouping M&Ms by color then creating a bar chart with their findings). In 21st century classrooms, students continue to learn first through hands-on activities before learning to produce the chart in a digital format. Elementary students are learning to create and use simple bar charts digitally; students with visual impairments also need to know how to create and use digital bar charts while using a screen reader.
Hands-on Fall Leaf Bar Chart Activities
Take an exploration walk this fall with the class. Ask each student to find his/her favorite colorful fall leaf. (If doing this activity at home or with a small group, ask the student to find multiple leaves.)
In the classroom, divide the leaves into groups. Groups might be by color, size, shape or type (tree names).
Teacher Hint: If a totally blind student is in the class, do not divide the leaves by color.
Teacher Resouces: Attached are clear images of a Red Oak, White Oak, Tulip, Maple, Hickory and Birch leaves. These individual leaves (or substitute leaves of trees in your area) can be used to help students determine what kind of leaves they have found. Students can also do an Internet search using a kid-friendly search engine to identify their leaves. Print each leaf on a construction paper (or braille paper) and cut out for students who are visually impaired.
Floor Bar Chart
Using masking tape, mark off a grid on the floor. The grid columns will list your categories. (Example: If dividing by color, there will be one column for each color. The image on the right shows a grid on the floor created by masking tape. There are four columns labeled: yellow, orange, green and red. The grid boxes are either empty or have one leave per box. Yellow: 1 leaf; Orange: 2 leaves; Green: 4 leaves; Red:3 leaves.
If dividing by tree type, there will be one column for each tree type (My example below: Red Oak, White Oak, Tulip, Maple, Hickory, Birch). Determine the category with the highest number of leaves (My example below had 6 White Oak leaves). My chart is a 6 x 6 grid. Write each category on an index card; if a braille student is in the class, be sure to braille the index cards. Place leaves in the appropriate squares – only one leaf per square.
For this activity and additional creative hands-on fall leaf activities, go to Little Giraffes Teaching Ideas: Activities & Ideas for Autumn
Paper/Tactile Bar Chart
Create a paper bar chart using a worksheet or have each student draw his/her own chart. Students can glue leaves (real or paper cut out leaves) or use stickers to indicate how many leaves are in each category. To modify this activity for a braille student, use Rainbow tape (thin, strips of colorful masking tape) to make the grid. Sticky-backed foam stickers in different shapes can be used to indicate the various leaves. (Example: Circle foam stickers for Red Oak leaves and triangle foam stickers for White Oak leaves.)
iPad Pages App Bar Chart
Young elementary students in digital classrooms are creating and using digital bar charts. For students using an iPad, create accessible bar charts in the Pages app. These bar charts are accessible with VoiceOver.
To create a bar chart in Pages
- Create a new Pages document.
- Select the Add button (VoiceOver calls it Insert button).
- Select the Charts button.
- Select the desired type of chart. (Example is 2-D Column Chart)
- (A sample bar chart now appears in your Pages document)
- Tap the chart for the popup menu and select Edit Data.
- (With VoiceOver on, tap the chart to bring the VoiceOver focus to the chart, then activate the Rotor to Edit. Swipe down and select Edit Data)
- An editable table format is now available.
- The sample table has 2 Regions. Delete all the information related to Region 2.
- Substitute the sample information with your desired information.
- Substitute Region 1 with the desired title of your chart. (My example chart’s title is “Type of Fall Leaves”.
- At the top of the Pages document, type in the name of the chart and what kind of chart. Also include the range of the Y axis and the X axis categories, since VoiceOver currently does not announce these things. (My example is: “Type of Fall Leaves, bar chart. Y axis range: 0-6. X axis categories: Red Oak, White Oak, Tulip, Maple, Hickory, Birch.”)
Always teach students to read the title, the kind of chart, X and Y axis information before looking at the chart data.
The image below is a screen shot of the Edit Chart Data screen which is in a table format. At the top of the columns are the X axis categories: Red Oak, White Oak, Tulip, & Maple. (Other categories are off the visual screen and require a three-finger scroll left.) The second row has the title, "Type of Fall Leaves" and corresponding Y axis numbers: 5, 6, 5, & 5 with the remaining numbers off the visual screen. The third row is blank; Region 2 data has been manually deleted.
The screenshot below is the finished Pages document with the text:
"Type of Fall Leaves bar chart. Y Axis range: 0-6. X axis: Red Oakd, White Oak, Tulip, Maple, Hickory, Birch" The chart is a typical horizontal bar chart with the same data that was in the table format above.
Below is a video demonstrating this Pages bar chart using VoiceOver.
To create a bar chart in Excel
- Create a new Excel spreadsheet.
- Type X categories in Column A.
- Type number of leaves in Column B.
- Select columns A & B.
- Select Charts in the top tabs.
- (The generated Bar Chart will appear.)
- To add the Title, select Chart Layout tab.
- Select Chart Title
- Type in desired title. (My example the title is, “Type of Fall Leaves”.
The image below is an Excel spreadsheet with the table format (A colum with categories and B column with corresponding numbers.) The screenshot also shows the bar chart with the title 'Type of Fall Leaves' with the same data in bar chart format.
For additional information on Excel including creating and using Excel with a screen reader, view the post, All About Excel Spreadsheets.
View additional posts in the Digital Transitions series: