Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Zoo Favorites

Tara Ply


Students demonstrate their understanding of data analysis by gathering and displaying data using a tally grid and picture graph, then interpreting and communicating the results.


The student displays solutions to problems by generating, collecting, organizing, and analyzing data using simple graphs and charts.


-Lesson Page 1 (4 zoo animal cards to color and cut)
-Overhead projector and screen
-Electrical source for overhead projector
-Transparency 1 (a blank tally chart)
-Large pocket chart
-Laminated sentence strips bearing the graph title, “Favorite Zoo Animals”
-Laminated sentence strips bearing the graph title, “Least Favorite Zoo Animals”
-Laminated sentence strip pieces bearing the numbers 1 through 10.
-One colored, cut, and laminated card of each zoo animal
-Lesson Page 2 (Picture of various animals)
-Lesson Page 3 (Blank Tally Grid)
-Lesson Page 4 (Picture Graph Form)
-Lesson Page 5 (Graph Cut-and-Paste Animal Cards)
-Lesson Page 6 (Graph Questions)


1. Download and duplicate 1 copy of Lesson Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 for each child in your class. (See Associated File)
2. Download Transparency 1 and duplicate 1 copy on transparency medium.
3. Prepare overhead projector area and screen.
4. Label whole sentence strips with phrases “Favorite Zoo Animals” and “Least Favorite Zoo Animals."
5. Cut ten sentence strip pieces 3 inches long and label with numbers 1 through 10.
6. Color, cut out, and laminate 1 set of zoo animal cards from Lesson Page 1.
7. Clear large pocket chart of other cards and materials, and prepare blank graph area with title, number, and animal labels.


Note: This lesson is part of a series of lessons related to graphing and data analysis. Students have already worked with graphs and tally charts in previous lessons.

Day One:

1. Begin the lesson by reviewing the parts of a graph and a tally grid.

2. Initiate a discussion of ways graphs can help people organize and understand information.

3. Explain to the class that today they will be creating a picture graph to show their favorite zoo animals.

4. Distribute a copy of Lesson Page 1 (see Associated File) to children and tell them to color and cut out the card which shows the zoo animals they like best. Excess papers and all crayons and scissors should then be put away until later. Students should be left with only the one card they selected on their desk.

5. Dim the lights and turn on the overhead projector to project Transparency 1 (see Associated File) on the screen and direct students to look at the projected image.

6. Explain to the class that they are going to record data about their favorite zoo animals on the tally grid before converting the information into picture graph form.

7. Call on all children who chose the lion to stand. Direct those students to “count off” to determine how many children chose the lion. As the students count off, mark tally marks on the grid under "lion." Repeat the process for bears, monkeys, and elephants.

8. Lead a discussion in which students are asked to make observations about the information they have gathered, including which animals were chosen the most, which animals were chosen the least, how many elephants were chosen, et cetera. Observe during the discussion to determine whether or not students can correctly orally interpret the data in the tally grid before moving on to the creation of the picture graph.

9. Leaving the projector image on the screen, turn up the lights and tell the class they will now use the data they have gathered to make a picture graph.

10. Explain to the class that each student will have the opportunity to walk up to the graphing pocket chart and place the chosen zoo animal card on the graph where it belongs. Then allow children to come up one at a time to the chart and add their cards to the developing graph. When about half of the class has had the opportunity to graph the cards, pause and call on children to make predictions about the final graph.

11. When the graph is complete, ask students to compare the data on the tally grid with the information on the graph. Demonstrate for students how to compare using the example of the lions’ portion of the graph (i.e.—“Our tally grid shows eight people liked the lions best, and looking at our graph we see that eight lion pictures are in place. That means our graph data matches our tally grid data.”) Guide students through checking the other parts of the grid/graph accuracy.

12. In a class discussion, have the class analyze the completed graph to determine which zoo animal was chosen the most, which the least, and so on. You may also ask such questions as, “How many children chose bears and lions together?”

13. Review the procedure used to collect the data, build the tally grid, and create the picture graph. Repeat the procedure if necessary by asking the children to color and cut out their least favorite animal card from Lesson Page 1 (see Associated File) and build a new tally grid and graph using the new data collected.

Day Two:

1. After briefly reviewing the concepts from Day One, distribute a copy of Lesson Page 2 (see Associated File), Lesson Page 3 (see Associated File), Lesson Page 4 (see Associated File), and Lesson Page 5 (see Associated File), to each child and ask children to look at the picture on Lesson Page 2 (see Associated File) carefully. Discuss with the children the idea that all of these animals are in the animal show at the zoo.

2. Tell the students that they will collect data about how many of each kind of animal are in the picture and record the data on the tally grid on Lesson Page 3 (see Associated File). Tell the students that after the data is displayed on their tally grids, the students need to transfer the data accurately to their graphs by coloring, cutting, and pasting the animal pictures from Lesson Page 5 (See Associated File) where they belong on the graph on Lesson Page 4 (see Associated File). Remind the students that they should only use the cards that they need, and that there may be leftover cards that will not be used. Stress to the class that they need to carefully check their data once it is on the graph to be sure they accurately displayed the data from the tally grid.

3. Give the students time to work independently, circulating as needed to assist and provide direction for low-performing students. Make observations of any difficulties students are experiencing, noting which children may need reteaching at the end of the lesson.

4. When students have had time to complete their tally grids and picture graphs, pass out Lesson Page 6 (see Associated File). Explain that the students need to read the questions carefully and analyze their graphs to find and record the answers on their papers. Low-performing readers may need assistance with reading the questions.

5. When students have completed the activity, lead a discussion of the data collected and displayed before collecting Lesson Pages 2, 3, 4, and 6 (see Associated Files) for formative evaluation. Scraps and leftover animal cards from Lesson Page 5 (see Associated File) may be discarded.


1. Observe during the class discussion to determine whether or not students can correctly orally interpret the data in the tally grid and picture graph the class created.

2. Formatively evaluate the tally grid and graph produced by the student during the independent work portion of the lesson to determine whether or not the student correctly collected data from the picture on Lesson Page 2 (see Associated Files), accurately generated a tally grid for the data, and properly organized the data on the graph page. This is a low stakes assessment for information gathering purposes only.

3. Formatively evaluate the students’ answers to the questions on Lesson Page 4 (see associated files) to determine whether or not the student correctly analyzed the data gathered from the picture, tally grid, and picture graph to provide solutions to the problems listed on the page.

4. Follow up with small-group reteaching sessions for any students who demonstrated incomplete knowledge of lesson concepts. Those students will then be given an additional graphing opportunity to demonstrate progress prior to any summative assessment taking place.


1. You may wish for students to work with other sets of data in a tally grid and picture graph activity in classroom centers.
2. You may choose to have students work with graphing activities using [The Graph Club] software (see Weblink).

Web Links

Describes specifications for The Graph Club software, and tells teachers how to order.
The Graph Club Product Overview

Attached Files

Zoo Favorites Transparency 1     File Extension: pdf

Zoo Lesson Page 1 - Animal Cards     File Extension: pdf

Zoo Lesson Page 2 - The Animal Show Picture     File Extension: pdf

Zoo Lesson Page 3 - Blank Tally Grid     File Extension: pdf

Zoo Lesson Page 4 - Picture Graph Form     File Extension: pdf

Zoo Lesson Page 5 - Graph Cut and Paste Cards     File Extension: pdf

Zoo Lesson Page 6 - Graph Questions     File Extension: pdf

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