Elementary Mathematics

1st Grade Unit 4: What Would You Rather Be?

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND! common core expectations...

Students must be able to interpret data by answering questions about a representation. In Favorite Ice Cream Flavor, students have the support of a small group to help them answer questions about a class survey. The suggested sentence frames are beneficial for English Language Learners and struggling students.

There are many opportunities to make collecting and interpreting data part of the everyday classroom routine. For example, Weather Graph Data challenges students to analyze weather data collected during morning meeting.

Brainstorm ideas for survey questions – Let students ideas lead your discussions and complete several quick surveys during the unit and the rest of the year. 

Unit at a Glance

Suggested Dates:
May 20- June 6

Estimated Duration: 13 days
*Investigation 1: 4 lessons
*Investigation 2: 5 lessons
*Investigation 3: 4 lessons

Smart Board, Promethean, and Power Point Files:


Graphing activities

Daily Weather
Investigation 1

Investigation 2

Investigation 3

Us and Siblings

Unit 4

Tools for Teachers

Students can create graphs on Create a Graph Classic.

Graphing activities for the Smart Board

Kids can take polls and immediately see the results on Kids’ Opinion Polls

Games organized by Common Core standard Fuel The Brain

Interactive Math Dictionary Site for Kids

End of Unit Rubrics 1st Grade

Unit 4 Vocabulary

This site provides an extensive collection of free resources, math games, and hands-on math activities aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

1st Grade At a Glance

1st Grade Investigations Extension Projects

1st Grade Story Problem Routine

Investigations K-2 Literature List

Progression for choosing numbers for tasks


Suggestions for students who fully understand...

Help students connect their work with data in class to the real world. Students can look up sports teams’ records or scores of games, respond to the “sound off polls” on National Geographic Kids (located on the right-hand side near the bottom), or read the articles attached to polls on Time for Kids. Students can cast their votes then represent the nation-wide results.

Provide students with an opportunity to independently create their own data analysis project where they developed their own question, collected data, represented it, and provided their own interpretation of their results.

Provide students with an opportunity to independently create their own data analysis project where they developed their own question, collected data, represented it, and provided their own interpretation of their results.      


MP2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

Students begin Unit 4 by sorting collections of shapes, buttons, and people. They must look for commonalities among the objects in their collection and place them into groups. This requires abstract reasoning. Later in the unit, students represent the results to surveys using charts. They must be able to represent their results using symbols. Students must also be able to answer questions about their results. This requires students to move from asking a question, to recording answers one by one, to quantifying their results. Ask students, “What do your ____ tally marks in this category represent?” to help them re-contextualize their results.


MP6. Attend to precision.
Students must be able to communicate clearly about mathematics. This includes understanding key symbols and vocabulary words and sharing their observations with others. Quick surveys allow students opportunities to attend to precision. They must understand the organization of various representations in order to accurately read them. Then, they must be able to clearly communicate their observations to others. Students also need to attend to precision when representing data.  Students will create a plan for collecting data. Have students evaluate their plans. Did it help them collect accurate data?

MP1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

How can we help students to understand the importance of creating “good” survey questions?

What experiences can we provide to support students’ work with representing the data that we collect?


Read “Teacher Note: Describing Data” (pgs. 122 – 123). As this note says, “What is most critical for young students is to keep connecting their data, and the representations of their data, to what it represents.” Students can often represent their results with pictures and numbers, but they also need to be able to re-contextualize their results. Talk with your teammates and identify questions you should ask students about their data. How will you help students connect their representations to the work they conducted? See, “Dialogue Box: Sharing Survey Findings” (page 141) for additional suggestions.

Pages 10-13- Read Mathematics in this Unit.
P. 119- Student Representations of Data

Suggestions for students who are struggling...

Encourage students to make hands-on models of survey results before representing data with pictures and symbols. Students can answer questions about the graph by physically moving the manipulatives in each category.

Have students initially look at representations with only two categories. As students master asking and answering questions about surveys with two categories, move up to three categories.

Rephrase the question, “How many more are in one category than another?” as “How much more would you need to add to this category for it to have the same number of responses as this category?” Help students connect the skill of comparing two categories to counting on.

Give students a checklist to help them evaluate their own representations of data. 

Start with true/false or only 2 options so that the data is easier to keep track of.

Work with a small data set (less than 10) to keep the number of data points more manageable.


Click here for the NCDPI CCSS Unpacking Document

Students begin this unit by interpreting data collected as a class. Then they organize, represent, and interpret data they have collected. This corresponds to the Measurement and Data standards. Students must also be able to ask and answer questions about data. They need to find the total number of data points, identify how many are in a category, and compare categories. This requires number sense and algebraic thinking.   For more information about number sense in first grade, please visit the Common Core State Standards Video Series, 1.NBT.4. You can also refer to the  unpacking document for examples of appropriate tasks for first grade students (page 29).

Represent and interpret data.

1.MD.4. Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

Extend the Counting Sequence.

1.NBT.1. Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral.

Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction.

1.OA.1. Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

Words you should hear students use in Mathematical Conversations...

Survey, Data, Equation, Interpret, Question, Representation, Tally mark, more, most, less, least, same, different, category, question, collect

Students need to be able to ask and answer questions about survey results. Complete a Quick Survey with your class. Then give students time to write a question about the survey on a sheet of paper. Have each students crumple up their paper to make a “snowball.” The students will throw their snowballs out onto the carpet. Then, the students will pick up someone else’s snowball. Students will answer the question on the paper they picked up. Students can read their question and share how they figured out the answer.

Students have many opportunities to represent data in Unit 4. They will take many different approaches. Different students may choose to use numbers, pictures, tallies, or names to represent the same set of data. Allow students the opportunity to explore the various ways they can represent the same set of data by completing a Gallery Walk. Have each student lay out his/her representation. Then have the students walk around the room and look at their peers’ work. Post sentence starters and encourage students to talk continuously while taking their tour. Have them say, “[name] used [representation]. I see that [observation about the data].” If time allows, have students return to their desks and re-represent the same set of data in a new way. Or, have students share their observations and answer, “What ways were effective at showing the data? What made those ways so effective?”

*Remember to upload files to share with others, or locate files to use, on the wiki. Be sure to join discussion posts with other colleagues to ask questions, answer questions, and discuss math.



As students sort objects and play “Guess My Rule,” provide opportunities for them to discuss or write about the various ways to sort and classify objects. Emphasize the need for students to communicate with precision when discussing their reasoning and strategies.


As students collect data, look for opportunities to ask “why” when you discuss the importance of asking “good” survey questions and represent data in easy-to-read ways such as tables, charts or graphs.


In this Investigation when students compare age data, ask them questions, such as “why do you think our ages are different from the other class? What other questions could we ask where our data would be different from that class? What questions could we ask where our data may be the same?”


1.NBT.1 –  Students continue to work with the counting sequence. Remember that the expectation is that they get to 120 by the end of the year.  

This activity helps students recognize coins and other objects and is great for quantitative reasoning (MP 2).