Data Analysts in Pre-K?

Bet you didn’t know your child was a data analyst.  Sure they are!  But don’t start a bank account to collect all that lovely income yet….  Data analysis in Pre-K refers to the ways young children collect, represent, analyze, and visualize the information they encounter.  It sounds a bit complicated, but really we do it all the time.  Anytime we take a quick poll to find out how many children like cats better than dogs or who’s got mittens vs. who’s brought gloves we are collecting information and analyzing it.  We can then use that data to compare which is more or less and even which might be equal.

One of the ways we organize data is by sorting and classifying it.  To help support these skills, teachers provide children with easily identifiable attributes such as colors, shapes, or obvious group relationships.  This past week, I introduced the class to a single loop Venn diagram.  Our first experience with it was on the morning message.  The question of the day was, “Do you have an “Aa” in your name?”  Children who did have an “Aa” wrote their name inside the circle while those who didn’t, wrote outside.  Later we compared how many names had “Aa”s and how many did not.

At center time, I provided a group with a single Venn loop and a box full sorting materials.  Although I did suggest the first set (“Put everything with wheels in the circle.”), the group came up with many more of their own categories.  This early in the year, all of them used only one attribute to distinguish a set.  “Put all of the fish inside.”  “Put everything that is orange inside.”  This is wonderful experience for them to both follow another child’s attribute choice and for them to define their own.  As we progress through the year, we’ll practice classifying using more than one attribute, adding another loop to our diagram.