3 Activities to Introduce Kids to the Fun World of Data
How do you introduce kids with no data background into the data world? Here are three curated data activities—for all ages—to learn how to collect data, interpret graphs, and how to explore data to uncover insights.
If you’re an adult data enthusiast, then you know what it feels like to uncover a powerful insight within your data. But this aha moment doesn’t have to be restricted to grownups.
At any age, it takes the same two ingredients to get someone started on their data journey:
- Data that appeals to the person’s interests
- Questions that the data can help answer
When you have these two things, you can’t help but be intrigued! Kids are no exception.
Here are three activities that parents and teachers can use to get kids excited about data. Activity 1 does not require the use of Tableau, you will only need a pen, paper, and a partner. For Activity 2 and 3, download the Tableau workbooks, review the activity, and try it out. Be sure to read through the “Instructor Notes” tab for tips on how to guide the activity and enhance the experience.
Activity 1: Let’s Play Some Tic-Tac-Toe (Ages 5-12)
Did you know tic-tac-toe can be a fun and approachable way to introduce kids to the idea of data and data collection? This activity will show that data is all around us and collecting it can be fun!
- Identify someone who can be your partner.
- Take out a blank sheet of paper and draw three big tic-tac-toe tables, there will be three rounds. A tic-tac-toe table looks like this: #
- Play three rounds of tic-tac-toe! After each round, answer the questions below. Be sure to write your answers down.
- Who won round one?
- Who won round two?
- Who won round three?
- How many X’s were used in each round?
- How many O’s were used in each round?
If you answered any of the questions above, you've collected data!
Activity 2: What Do You Get in a Bag of Skittles? (Ages 8-12)
Download the workbook here.
Viz by Chris Jones.
Here’s a fun activity for those with a sweet tooth. We chose Skittles, but you can use any candy with a variety of colors in each package.
In this activity, kids collect data on how many pieces of each color are in each bag. A parent or instructor then helps them enter the data into a spreadsheet and visualize it in Tableau for analysis. Use the discussion questions in the workbook, under the sheet titled Introduction, to guide the analysis.
Kids will go through the data collection experience and explore color variance across the bags of candy.
After this activity, the budding data explorer should be able to:
- Describe the data collection process
- Interpret bar charts in order to describe the variance of color across populations (bags of candy)
- Make informed predictions about the commonality of each color.
Activity 3: Find the Perfect Dog (Ages 10-16)
Download the workbook here.
Viz by Aaron Dietz.
Did you know that data can help you find your perfect dog?
In this activity, kids use a data set of popular dog breed characteristics to help determine the best type of dog for some hypothetical future dog owners. They’ll consider various factors like the dog’s lifespan, maximum weight, and whether the breed is known to be good with children. A parent or instructor can use the steps and discussion questions within the workbook to build the view and guide the problem-solving activity.
This activity teaches kids how to view and interact with data to answer questions or solve problems.
You can also try this with younger kids if they’re already enthusiastic about data and have a patient parent or teacher to guide them.
After this activity, your young data explorer should be able to:
- Describe the concept and purpose of encoding data in color and in bars.
- Describe the concept and purpose of filtering data.
- Use basic data visualizations to answer questions and solve problems.
Want to tell your kids about other kids using data? Check out the #DataKids on Tableau Public.
For more kid friendly data activities and data sources, check out the following:
- Data Kids Activity Library
- Data Kids Educator Kit
- Data sets and activities from Tuvalabs
- Lessons plans, data talks, and curriculum from Youcubed
- If you’ve got a Pokemon fan at home, try using this dashboard by Jewel Loree to ask and answer questions.
We know many of you are teaching your kids about data, and we’d love to hear from you. Share your tips, tricks, and lessons learned on social media using #DataKids.
If you have questions about Data Kids, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.