Data collection and analysis is easily introduced to early childhood students with the use of a daily class survey. The surveys below can be used to give students opportunities to think about their own preferences and to make choices, as well as to learn about how information can be collected and organised. Very little preparation is required. Simply print and store the survey sheets (they fit conveniently in A4 plastic pocket folders). Pull one out each week (or every day) for an instant 5 minute lesson on data collection and representation. Read through the question (or have a new student each time read it to the class),and discuss briefly to clarify (usually only need a minute or two if that). The quickest method is for each student to take a counter while reading anddiscussing, and then each student "votes" for their preference. The counters are laid out in lines under the options listed, like a bar graph. When the survey is completed, have one student report to the class on the results. This is great for developing the language of surveys and data representations. It enables even very young students to develop confidence with these important mathematical skills. Alternatively, counters can be collected into containers and a class graph can be created using squares of paper to permanently record the findings in a bar graph. When students are ready, they can
occasionally record the findings of the class survey in simple bar graphs individually. Teachers can pick up useful insights into how students are thinking and understanding all sorts of things. The introductory discussion can lead students towards an understanding of being honest with their choices, and also creative about reasons for some of the sillier questions like thoseabout which pets they would like.
*Some surveys call for students to make more than one choice. If students can make multiple selections, they need to collect the total possible counters, and then put those not needed into the container after making their decision. The way each question is phrased allows students to learn about how many choices they have. It's a learning experience for younger ones just to be limited to one choice when you would like to have 3 turns! It's also sometimes valid for students to place counters on the side of the survey to represent their response if no valid choice is appropriate (not with questions that say..."which would you prefer..." though). An example of this would be if given several choices about things they have done, but none are true.
Letter of the Week Surveys
The following surveys have been created to support the "letter of the week" program, but they are just as fun to do in a random order and to give young students a chance to state their opinions. They may inspire you (and your students) to come up with lots of interesting questions of your own!