Level-up learning to graph by using real-world data.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The first time I looked for examples of graphs and graphing lessons on the internet I was disappointed to that most of them graphed low-value data such as favorite colors, colors of cars, colors of socks (there’s a bit of an obsession with colors), favorite pets and favorite foods. Maybe this is fine for K-2, but using high-value data while teaching graphing levels-up your lessons.

Easiest Source of Real-Word Data:

After wasting a lot of time searching I eventually realized that weather websites provide a wealth of up-to-date data that is meaningful both personally and educationally to my students and extremely easy to access.

Two websites that I use are Weather.com and Weather Underground.

Both websites allow you to see weather data for cities and towns around the world. There are more options than I can list in how you can use these data for graphing and analysis while also learning about weather.

Here’s some graphing ideas:

  • plotting temperature high/low over a 12-24 hour period
  • plotting the daily high (each day) over a period of time of your choosing (I do this for 4 weeks to track temperature changes in the fall season)
  • printing a 10-day or monthly forecast – plot the forecast and then also plot the actual high on the same graph which is a great way to analyze the accuracy of weather forecasting
  • plot the highs or lows for two separate cities for comparison
  • plotting humidity levels
  • plotting wind speed
  • making frequency graphs of any type of weather data – the daily weather conditions are great for this (full sun, partly cloudy, cloudy, precipitation) or # of days with precipitation over some time period

What other types of data can you access on weather websites?

You can access other interesting data sets if you click on “More Forecasts” on weather.com:

  • Allergy forecasts – easy tie-in with a unit on the immune system or even ecology
  • Boat & Beach – here you can access data on the UV index, tides and hours of daylight
  • Gardening Forecast – data on accumulation of precipitation in inches and pre-made graphs that could be used to engage students in data analysis
  • Snow forecast – here you can find data on the weather and snow conditions at different ski areas and resorts.

Need resources on how to teach graphing?

Click HERE for my “Graphing with Content” resources, including a link to a free first lesson. My series of 5 lessons walk the students through the steps of creating line and bar graphs.

If you know of any other easy to access data sets please share in the comments.