Computer Skills Curriculum
Database Lesson Plan

Title: Which Graph is Best?

Other Curriculum Objectives that can be addressed by this lesson plan
English Language Arts 2.1, 2.2, 4.1; Mathematics: (Gr. 6) 5.4, 6.1, 6.3, 6.5; Computer Skills: (Gr. 5) 2.2, (Gr. 6) 3.2; Information Skills 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2

Grade: 6
Competency 3.3: Use commercial software to organize and visually display data to draw conclusions.

Measure 3.3.1: Use graphing software to create several types of graphs illustrating the number of each color of M&M's in one bag. Decide which graph best represents the data.

Materials Needed: Activity: Bags of M&M's candy, paper for drawing graphs, computer graphing program.

Time: One class session.

Terms: Database, Sort, Search, Report



Pre-computer Activity:

  • 1. Place on the board or overhead an illustration of three different types of graphs--such as a pie graph, a bar graph, and a line graph. Discuss the graphs in terms of what each shows:
    • pie graph shows relationship of parts to the whole
    • bar graph shows comparison of parts
    • line graph shows change in relationship of two sets of values
  • 2. Divide the class into groups and provide each group with a bag of M&M's.
  • 3. Ask the students to separate and count the M&M's by color.
  • 4. Have each group make a paper graph for each type of graph and graph the data from the M&M's:
    • pie graph: number of each color compared to the total number.
    • bar graph: the comparison of the number of each color.
    • line graph: the color (x-axis) compared to the number for that color.
  • 5. After each group shares their graphs with the class, discuss which type of graph shows best:
    • a. Which color is the greatest in number in each bag?
    • b. Which colors had almost the same number in the bag?
    • c. Does any color comprise half or more of those in its bag?
    • d. What is the average number for one color in the bag?

Computer Activity:

  • 1. Provide a graphing program for each group to generate several different graphs with the data they collected from their bag of M&M's.
  • 2. Ask each group to discuss the information each graph best illustrates.


Select one example of each type of graph generated in the class activity by using the computer graphing progam. Display these for the class to examine. Ask each student to select the graph that can be used best to determine what colors comprise between half and three-fourths of the entire bag illustrated in that graph.