Thanksgiving Survey Lesson Plan November 12 2010

During their recent Classroom Apple Party, my son and his fellow kindergartners had to decide which apple was their favorite - red, yellow or green. The result hangs in the hallway outside their classroom for everyone to enjoy.

This activity seems unsophisticated, but gathering statistical data is a useful skill in both math and science. Statistical data is used to show results of science experiments from simple to complicated, like graphing the growth of plants in this Thanksgiving-themed science lesson plan. The apple survey is a great example of the kinds of Thanksgiving surveys you can use in your classroom to help kids strengthen math and science skills regardless of age level.

What Should I Ask?

First, brainstorm with your students a list of questions they might ask another person about their Thanksgiving celebrations and write the list on chart paper for everyone to access later. Some of these questions could include staying home for Thanksgiving dinner, traveling and who they visit, favorite foods eaten during the celebration, traditions before, during or after the meal, and more. Your students will probably come up with several options with which to survey their classmates!

Forming the Right Question

Survey questions can become complicated very quickly. Choose one of the questions from the list of brainstormed ideas to work with, such as "What is your favorite food served for Thanksgiving dinner?"

Discuss the difference between open-ended questions - which this example is - and and yes-or-no question. If your kids are younger, you may want to have them stick to a yes-or-no question to use in their survey of their classmates. If your students are older, consider allowing them to use and graph the results from an open-ended question.

Answering the Questions

How students get their answers to their questions depends on their level of development. For a kindergarten group, the teacher might pose one question to ask each person during a whole-group session, such as the Favorite Apple graph pictured above.

Working with older kids allows a greater sophistication in the survey process. Students can use a simple sheet of paper with their question at the top, asking classmates and tallying answers during specified time of the day. Then they can construct a graph that represents their collected data.

For a greater challenge, students can create and distribute questionnaires with questions under a common category. For example, a possible Thanksgiving category could be "Favorite Thanksgiving Foods" with specific questions, such as "Do you prefer light or dark turkey?" and "Do you eat apple or pumpkin pie?" Once the data is collected, your kids can then decide how best to represent it.

Use for Math Review

You can use this collected data to not only practice and review graphing, but also go over skills that appear on annual math tests, such as mean, median, mode, and range.  Use this opportunity to create a whole group graph to review the meanings of these terms, than have students practice with their created graphs.