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The Soup Spot

Food Court
Data Analysis and Probability
Grace M. Burton
Location: unknown

Students conduct a survey and create pictographs and line plots. They also determine the number of possible combinations.

To begin the lesson, display a bar graph from the previous lesson and ask students to tell how many people chose each kind of sandwich.

Assign the students to groups of two or three and distribute copies of The Soup Spot Activity Sheet to each group.

pdficonThe Soup Spot Activity Sheet 

Ask the students to choose three soups (such as chicken noodle, tomato, clam chowder) and three kinds of salads (such as Greek, tossed, Caesar) and enter them on their menu.

Next, tell the students to list as many soup and salad combinations as are possible on the back of their menu. When each group has recorded all possible combinations (there will be nine of them), invite them to take orders from 20 people. Remind them to discuss how they will be sure that they survey 20 different people.

After the groups have completed their surveys, ask them to display the data in a line plot. If they have not had previous experience making line plots, model how to make one using the data from one group.

When they have completed this task, encourage the groups to share their line plots. (If the choices for soups were tomato, chicken noodle, and vegetable, and the choices for salads were tuna, green, and egg, there would be nine possible combinations.)

1684 line plot

Next, ask them to disply the same data in a pictograph. On the board, model how to make a pictograph using one group's line plot. Remind them to decide on what symbol they will use to indicate a choice and model how to create a legend at the bottom of the chart.

When they have finished, call on the groups to show their pictographs, encouraging them to make comparisons between the rows. Ask, "How many people does each star represent?" [1] Then ask them to tell what is alike and what is different among the pictographs displayed.

1684 pictograph

Now draw a second pictograph near the first one and use a legend that shows that each star equals two students.

Ask the students what that might mean. [Each star now stands for two students.] If there are an odd number of stars in a row in the first pictograph, guide the students to understand that half a star should be drawn when a star stands for two people.

Ask each group to construct a second pictograph using the legend. When they are ready, call on groups to share the pictographs they made.

Assessment  Options 

  1. At this stage of the unit, students should be able to:
    • create line plots
    • create pictographs
    • answer questions about the data set from the representations
    • construct a line plot
    • construct a pictograph where each symbol stands for more than one data point
    • compute the total number of combinations given two variables
  2. You may wish to record individual progress across lessons on the Class Notes recording sheet. Dated entries from each lesson may be useful during conferences with students, parents, administrators, and colleagues. These notes can also provide documentation for mandated Individual Education Plans.
  3. Put the students into pairs and tell each pair to plan a party for eight people. Since the menu does not have prices, inform students that they should estimate what those prices might be. Similarly, if they wish to order something that is not on the menu, they may wish to estimate the prices for the items.
  4. When they are ready, ask them to write the price of the party on the board. Then have the pairs find the mean, median, and mode of the price of the party. When all have had time to complete the task, identify one pair and call on a volunteer from that pair to describe the menu and to share their findings. Repeat with each pair.


  1. How many combinations would there be if you ran out of one kind of soup?
  2. How many combinations would there be if you had three kinds of soups and four kinds of salads?
  3. Move on to the next lesson, The Clucking Chicken.

Questions for Students  

1. Can you state a rule for telling how many combinations there will be?

[Multiply the number of soups by the number of salads.]

2. What questions can you answer from looking at the line plot? Can you tell how many people placed orders?

[The number of people per type of salad; Yes, by counting up the number of x's.]

3. When a symbol in a pictograph represents two students, how do you show ten people? Eight people? Eleven people?

[5 symbols; 4 symbols; 5 1/2 symbols.]

4. How would you describe making a line plot to a friend?

[Student responses may vary.]

5. How would you describe making a pictograph?

[Student responses may vary.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Were all students able to answer questions from the line plots?
  • Were all students able to contribute to the creation of the pictographs?
  • Were all students able to answer questions from the pictograph?
  • Which students were able to complete a pictograph where a symbol stood for more than one student? What instructional experiences do they need next?
  • What adjustments will I make the next time I teach this lesson? 
Data Analysis and Probability

The Clucking Chicken

Students choose meals from a menu and then construct a box plot. They use the plot to identify the mean, mode, median and range of the data set.
Data Analysis and Probability

The Pizza Palace

Students will construct box plots independently. Students identify the mean, median, mode, and range of a set of data.
Data Analysis and Probability

The Bread Basket

In this lesson, students conduct a survey and create bar graphs from the data they have collected.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Construct a line plot.
  • Construct a pictograph where each symbol stands for more than one data point.
  • Compute the total number of combinations given two variables.
  • Determine the combinations possible from a given number of possibilities.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Design investigations to address a question and consider how data-collection methods affect the nature of the data set.
  • Collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments.
  • Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs.
  • Compare different representations of the same data and evaluate how well each representation shows important aspects of the data.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

Grade 3, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.3.MD.B.3
    Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step ''how many more'' and ''how many less'' problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.

Grade 4, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.MD.B.4
    Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret the difference in length between the longest and shortest specimens in an insect collection.

Grade 5, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.5.MD.B.2
    Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For example, given different measurements of liquid in identical beakers, find the amount of liquid each beaker would contain if the total amount in all the beakers were redistributed equally.