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Excel Math Blog

Monday, June 10, 2013

Raising the Bar with Graphs

In Excel Math, we help students understand and create their own picture graphs, line plots, circle graphs, bar graphs, and more! Let's take a look at how to make bar graphs interesting and understandable.

Download a free printable math worksheet below that you can use with your own class.

Some websites let your students create their own bar graphs. Here are just a few:

Create a Graph from the National Center for Education Statistics

You can choose the color for your bars and your background, specify whether you prefer a vertical or horizontal (or stacked) bar graph, a rhombus or triangular shape (or a pattern), whether you'd like it in 2-D or 3-D (or with a shadow).

You can also choose a line plot, an area graph, a pie chart or coordinate points. Then import your data and print your graph or email yourself a link to save it for later.

Madison Square Park

Excel Math Bar Chart

pie chart

ChartGo Online Charts and Graphs

ChartGo lets your older students create colorful 3-D pie charts and bar graphs.

The options are a bit more complicated, but you can label each x and y axis, choose the width and height of your graph, add rounded corners, a shadow, a border and gridlines.

The bars can be shaped as cylinders, rectangles or polygons. Choose your bar colors and either a soft or glass shading.

You can even copy the code so the graph will display online. has a chartmaker as well as online calculators and math games.

The Bar Graph Maker lets you choose the name and amount for each bar as well as the number of bars. It's a simple tool that walks you through each step.

Choose a vertical or horizontal and whether to show the value on the bar itself.

You can choose your bar colors, background colors, and the width and height of the graph.

Then save your finished chart as an image on your computer and then download it as a png file. Here's an example.

Math warehouse bar graph

Math Warehouse Bar Graph

online chart tool

Online Chart Tool Bar Graph

OnlineChartTool gives you even more options. This graphing tool is not for the faint at heart (or for your younger elementary class).

But it does expand your choice of charts to include bubble graphs, radar, scatter, meter, and bar/line charts.

You can save your chart as a png, jpg, pdf or cvs and download it or email it to save for future use.

Bar graphs are visual representations of information.

There is usually a title for the graph and then along the left side and the bottom there are labels identifying the information to be represented.

Look with your class at the graph on the right. (Or download the worksheet below.) The vertical lines on the graph are for the hours Bret practiced. The numbers 10, 20, 30, and 40 are listed.

Ask your students what the numbers are counting by. (10) The bottom line will always be zero unless otherwise indicated. Ask the students what the lines in between these numbers represent. (5, 15, 25 and 35.) Explain that this method of not labeling all the lines is common so as to make the numbers that are listed easier to read. The horizontal bars are for the months. 

The graph represents the number of hours Bret practiced each month. Next ask the students each of the following questions. The students should write a number sentence where it is appropriate to answer a bar graph question.

Excel Math bar graph

Excel Math Bar Graph

bar graph worksheet

In which month did Bret practice the most? (August)
How many hours did he practice in May and June? (70 hours)
How many more hours did he practice in August than in April (20 hours)

Download a bar graph worksheet to use with your own class (show on left).

How do you help your students understand bar graphs? Leave a comment below to share your strategies. 

Click here to download the worksheet.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and walk through the curriculum at

You might also like:

Eternal Light for WWI Soldiers
Fun with Fractions
Staying Fit Over the Summer Break
Listen Up! Keeping Students' Attention
Bridging the Gap to Common Core Math

Learn about Excel Math Summer School.

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