Teaching Tally Charts with Storyboards

By Anna Warfield

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Elementary School Category!

Tally Charts Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Teaching Tally Charts Include:

Information drives our society. Research studies promote consumer choices, social changes, government policies, technological developments and more. As educators, we need to prepare little minds for important data-driven futures. The tally chart is easy to use and understand, so it is an excellent choice for first-time researchers.

What is a Tally Chart?

A tally chart is a simple means of recording small samples of categorical data in an organized way. The information gathered by a tally chart is to be separated into categories. Depending on the desired facts, categories might be favorite ice cream flavors, number of times you hear the word “cucumber” in a story, number of holidays in each of the twelve months, or shoe size. All kinds of information can be shown on a tally chart!

Making tally marks next to a category is much more efficient than listing items as they are reported.

Start My Free Trial

Ideas for Tally Chart Data

  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Favorite ______
  • Number of times I _______
  • Number of items that ______
  • Distribution of girls/boys in a class or grade
  • Number of times a teacher says the word ______
  • Number of times choosing a certain color marble from a jar
  • Number of vowels/consonants in a word, sentence, or short paragraph
  • Preference for a free time activity, field trip, group game at recess, etc

While tally charts are useful research/data tools, they can also be helpful in record-keeping throughout the day, behavior plans, class or group decisions, or to keep students engaged in a silly activity, such as Sit, Stand, Jump.
Start My Free Trial

Teaching Tally Charts Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Making A Tally Chart

Tally charts are very easy to make, and very easy to use! First, separate the space you are working with into rows and columns. On one side, or on top if preferred, we list our categories. If asking the question, "Where is your favorite place to read?", the categories would be the answers or options for that question.

Leave enough space to record the data as you discover it. An additional column for the frequency (number of instances of a specific data value) is often added for ease of reading after all the information has been collected. You will also hear tally charts referred to as Frequency Tables.

Students can get data through a survey, asking the same question(s) of different people, or by witnessing events over a period of time.

As you gather information, you make tally marks on your chart. For each response, we mark a single vertical line, like a lowercase letter “L”. When you reach the fifth data point, the notation changes slightly; instead of continuing to use vertical lines, every fifth data point is a diagonal slash across four vertical tally marks. It is an easy visual cue to see the data organized into groups of five. Have your students practice their skip-counting to get the totals for each category!

Start My Free Trial

Interpreting Tally Charts / Frequency Table

Students can count the tally marks individually if needed, but skip-counting by fives first makes finding the totals of each category quicker. Introducing skip counting by fives with tally charts demonstrates a very practical use for the skill to students. Students should record the totals for each category on the tally chart in a separate column for frequency.

Students are expected to be able to compare and answer questions about the frequency of data points. Many of these answers can be figured out easily by counting carefully, or by doing basic addition or subtraction with the frequency table.

Using the example below, have students interpret the following questions with the data presented!

  1. How many more people like basketball than tennis?
  2. Which category had the most?
  3. Which category had the least?
  4. How many people voted in all?

By using language that students don’t necessarily associate with math, students will be able to see the value of gathering and analyzing the information.

Here are some questions that change up the language used, requiring students to analyze the data in a different way. Let these questions serve as inspiration for creating your own, unique storyboard tally charts!

  1. Which flavor of ice cream was the most popular?
  2. Did people like playing kickball or Band-Aid tag in PE better?
  3. When I buy colored paper for the classroom, should I get lots of the [unpopular] yellow?

Start My Free Trial

Suggested Modifications

The tally chart is the perfect tool for those who struggle with literacy, need to count quantities to recognize a number, or need assistance with arranging information.

Modified tally charts could be used to scaffold students with language or writing difficulties. Use pictures to pair with words (i.e., “dog” and the image of a dog) or simply use pictures or representations (splotch of red to indicate the category of “red”). Tally marks do not require much handwriting skill, and can be made with pencil, crayon, fingerprint, paper strips, objects, on paper, or in sand!

Use Storyboard That for creating and printing a tally chart for students to use as they survey classmates or make observations. Students can create their own tally charts on Storyboard That for printing to use for data-gathering, or as an electronic assessment for student understanding.

Start My Free Trial

A tally chart is often the stepping stone between gathering information to displaying information in a graph. Use tally charts or a frequency table to prepare for bar graphs and other visual data displays!

Related Common Core Standards

Don’t Let the Fun Stop There! Check Out Our Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Use a storyboard to depict new math vocabulary.
  2. Use Storyboard That to show word problems.
  3. Create a comic to explain how we use math every day.
  4. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

Help Share Storyboard That!

Looking for More?

Check out the rest of our Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans!

All Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans Ed Tech BlogElementary SchoolMiddle School ELAHigh School ELAForeign LanguageSpecial EdUS History and Social StudiesWorld History

Our Posters on ZazzleOur Lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers
© 2018 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
Start My Free Trial
Explore Our Articles and Examples

Try Our Other Websites!

Photos for Class – Search for School-Safe, Creative Commons Photos (It Even Cites for You!)
Quick Rubric – Easily Make and Share Great-Looking Rubrics
abcBABYart – Create Custom Nursery Art
Prefer a different language?

•   (English) Teaching Tally Charts   •   (Español) Enseñando Cuadros de Tally   •   (Français) Enseignement   •   (Deutsch) Lehrtafel   •   (Italiana) Insegnare Tally Grafici   •   (Nederlands) Lesgeven Tally Grafieken   •   (Português) Ensinando Gráficos de Tally   •   (עברית) הוראת תרשימים טלי   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) تعليم المخططات البيانية تالي   •   (हिन्दी) टैली चार्ट शिक्षण   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Обучение Tally Графики   •   (Dansk) Undervisning Tally Charts   •   (Svenska) Undervisning Tally Charts   •   (Suomi) Opetus Tally Kaaviot   •   (Norsk) Undervisning Tally Charts   •   (Türkçe) Kademe Şemalarını Öğretmek   •   (Polski) Nauczanie Wykresów   •   (Româna) Predarea Grafice Tally   •   (Ceština) Výuku Tally Charts   •   (Slovenský) Výučba Tally Grafy   •   (Magyar) Oktató Tally Charts   •   (Hrvatski) Nastava Tally Charts   •   (български) Преподаване на Диаграми на Tally   •   (Lietuvos) Mokymo Tally Charts   •   (Slovenščina) Poučevanje Tally Charts   •   (Latvijas) Mācību Tally Diagrammas   •   (eesti) Õppetöö Tally Charts