Hands-On Math: Graphing Fun


“Hello Math, so we meet again.”

That’s how I feel about math but it’s not how I want my kids to feel about math. Fortunately my 9 year old son, Mister Man, seems to catch on to math concepts very easily. Take this graphing exercise, for example. The goal was to plot the coordinates on the graph paper and draw a T-Rex. It took me 20 minutes and a teenager to figure it out but in those 20 minutes Mister Man had his T-Rex done and was working on creating a woodpecker all on his own.

Hunh. He must get that from his dad.

So, without further ado, here is a quick activity from Mister Man.

hands-on math graphing activity

First, you’re going to need some graph paper. You need paper that will stretch from -14 to 14 on both the X and Y axis. If you don’t have any paper, don’t fear, you can print some out at this link. Isn’t that handy?

Next, determine where the middle point in the page is and draw a vertical and horizontal line out from this point. If you have a child who is new to this type of graphing you may find it helpful to label the lines as well. Check out the picture below, it’s a smaller graph but it illustrates how to label the lines and for reference I plotted a few points on there so you can see how it works.

Click on the photo to see a larger version.
how to number a graph

Now we’re ready to move on to the plotting of coordinates. The coordinates are in (x,y) format.

Quick recap for adults people like me:

X is the horizontal axis, Y is the vertical. The point where X and Y meet is (0,0).

Always find the X point first, then Y.

To find the X point you start at (0,0) and move along the horizontal line. If the X number is positive move right, if it’s negative move left.

From that point you move up if the Y number is positive, down if the Y number is negative.

Got it?

Next have your child draw a dot at each coordinate. When you’re finished you can connect the dots and you’ll have a woodpecker! I recommend copying the plots below and printing them, it’s easier than starting at a screen and you can mark the coordinates off as they are plotted.

HEAD & BEAK
(8,9) (6,9) (5,8) (5,6) (6,4) (9,8) (10,7) (11,7) (12,7)
(13, 6.5) (12,6) (11,6) (10,6) (9,5)

BODY
(9,4) (10,3) (11,2) (11,1) (11,0) (6,4) (5,2) (4,1) (3,0)
(2,-1) (2,-2) (2,-3) (2, -4)
(11,-1) (10,-2) (9,-3) (8,-4)
(7,-5) (6,-5) (5,-5) (4,-5)

TAIL
(0,-5) (-1,-6) (-2,-7) (-3,-8) (-2,-10) (-1,-9) (0,-8)
(1,-7) (1,-6) (3,-5)

LEG
(5,-6) (6,-6) (5,-7) (6,-7) (5,-8) (6,-8)
(5,-9) (6,-9) (5,-11) (7,-11)


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