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Graphing with Gingerbread Men Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MPS0205
Submitted by: Diana Farabaugh
Email: dianafarabaugh@yahoo.com
School/University/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Endorsed by: Bernard Poole
             University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Date: January 23, 2003

Grade Level: 2


  • Mathematics/Process Skills
  • Language Arts/Literature/Children’s Literature

Duration: 30-40 minutes

Description: Students will learn how to create a bar graph by using gingerbread man cookies. A great activity for around the Christmas holiday!

Goals: Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Mathematics :

  • 2.1. Numbers, Number Systems and Number Relationships
    • 2.1.3 A. Count using whole numbers (to 10,000) and by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s, 10’s, 25’s and 100’s.
    • 2.1.3 C. Represent equivalent forms of the same number through the use of concrete objects, drawings, word names and symbols.
  • 2.2. Computation and Estimation
    • 2.2.3 A. Apply addition and subtraction to everyday situations using concrete objects.
  • 2.6. Statistics and Data Analysis
    • 2.6.3 A. Gather, organize and display data using pictures, tallies, charts, bar graphs and pictographs.
    • 2.6.3 B. Formulate and answer questions based on data shown on graphs.


  • Students will be able to use tally marks to count items.
  • Students will be able to transfer tally marks to a bar graph.
  • Students will be able to successfully read and understand a bar graph.
  • Materials:

    • The Gingerbread Man by Madge Tovey
    • blank tally chart (teacher-created)
    • blank bar graph (teacher-created)
    • markers
    • chalkboard
    • gingerbread man cookies
    • plastic baggies
    • napkins
    • candy cane cut-outs (teacher-created)
    • pencils
    • Tally Sheet
    • Graphing Worksheet
    • Assessment Checklist
    • Handouts in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

      Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.

    Vocabulary: tally mark – A way to keep track of the number of items you are counting. Procedure:

    Anticipatory Set:
    Ask students about the upcoming Christmas holiday (if applicable). Ask questions such as, What kinds of cookies do you eat around Christmas time? and How many of you have ever eaten a gingerbread man cookie? Read the story, The Gingerbread Man to the students to get them motivated for the lesson.

    After reading the story, inform students that today they are going to learn how to graph on a bar graph, using gingerbread man cookies! Conduct a short review on tally marks. Ask the students for a definition of a tally mark, and then write the definition on the board. Ask for a volunteer to come to the board to show how the numbers 1-5 are represented with tally marks. Tell the students that they are going to be using their skills with tally marks in today’s lesson. Each student will receive a baggie containing a gingerbread man cookie and a napkin. They will be allowed to take one bite from the cookie and then they must place the cookie on the napkin.

    Lesson Focus:
    Once students have taken a bite from their cookies and placed them on the napkins, place the gingerbread man cookie tally chart on the board (containing each body part of the gingerbread man cookie — head, right arm, right leg, body, etc.). Start at the top and ask students to raise their hand if they took a bite out of a specific body part. Count the number of students with their hands up and place the appropriate amount of tally marks after the corresponding body part. Once each body part has been tallied up, flip over the pre-made blank bar graph for the students to see. Explain that there are six columns that represent the body parts of the gingerbread man cookie and 20 rows that represent each person in the class. Then name off each body part and amount and fill in the tally mark results on the graph with the body part that matches up. When the bar graph is completed, ask students some questions to see if they understand the graph, such as, Are any columns the same height?, Which column has the highest amount?, and Which column has the lowest amount? After questioning students about the bar graph, explain to the class that they are going to complete a worksheet that will demonstrate their skills with graphing. Each student will get a worksheet along with a baggie containing 20 candy canes of various colors. They must graph the amounts of each colored candy cane on the worksheet and answer the questions that follow. Students have 10 minutes to start working on the worksheet and are instructed to raise their hands if they have any questions.

    Pass out the worksheets and the baggies containing the candy canes. Students will work independently for the 10 minute time period. Students are informed that whatever work is not completed in the class time will be taken home as homework and finished for tomorrow. Walk around and offer any help that is needed. When the 10 minutes is over, ask students to hand in the worksheet if it is completed or write down the assignment in their homework journals to take home for completion. Tomorrow they will go over the worksheets in class.

    Assessment: Observe students’ participation during the lesson. Use the Assessment Checklist (see Materials ) to evaluate students’ understanding of bar graphs.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * Perpetual Preschool – Gingerbread Science
    This web site has various activities including gingerbread men that can be used for enrichment or an extension.

    * Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Mathematics

    Special Comments: The lesson plan is a fun and interesting way to introduce bar graphs to children!