Interpret charts

Home learning focus

Learn about some different ways data can be shown or 'visualised' and how to find information from the data.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos
  • three interactive activities


Collecting data is really important.

Data can:

  • help people make important decisions.
  • help to compare different things.
  • show patterns.

Discrete data is data that is counted in whole numbers and can be represented in different types of charts.

Watch the video below from KS2 Maths on some of the ways data can be displayed.


Tables are a simple way to show data using numbers.

This table shows you the types of sandwiches that were ordered at a café.

Types of sandwichAmount sold

You can easily see how many of each sandwich was ordered.

  • Which was the most popular sandwich?

Cheese was the most popular sandwich, since 55 were sold.

  • How many tuna sandwiches were sold?

You can see there were 27 tuna sandwiches sold.


A pictogram is a chart that uses pictures or symbols to represent data so you don’t have to look at lots of numbers.

The title shows you what you are interpreting - how many cars were sold by a salesman.

The key shows how many cars each circle represents. Each circle represents 10 cars.

  • How many cars were sold on Monday?

Monday has 5 circles, so:

10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 50 cars

  • How many cars were sold on Thursday?

There are two and a half circles on Thursday. A semi-circle represents 5 cars, because that is half of 10. So:

10 + 10 + 5 = 25 cars

Bar charts

A bar chart is another simple and effective way to represent data.

The title shows you what you are interpreting.

The vertical and horizontal lines are called axes.

The horizontal line is called the x axis and the vertical line going up is the y axis. Both are labelled so you know what is being shown.

To interpret the types of pets that the children chose, you read the very top of the bar to see which number it reaches on the y axis.

  • How many children chose the dog as their favourite pet?

9 children chose dogs.

  • Which was the least popular pet?

The fish since only 3 children chose it.

For more help and advice with interpreting charts watch this Teacher Talk video. There are many more Teacher Talks covering different Maths topics on BBC iPlayer.


Activity 1

Interpret charts

Have a look at the worksheet below from Whizz Education and write your answers on paper.

Interpret charts

Click here for the answer sheet.

Activity 2

Make a chart

Look around your home and find some data that can be shown using a bar chat, pictogram or table. Which would be the best way to show your data?

For example, can you show the amount of knives, forks and spoons in the drawer? What would be the best way to show the colours of your pens and pencils?

What are the pros and cons of using the different ways to visualise the data?

Activity 3

Guardians: Defenders of Mathematicia

Play the Swamp of Statistics level in Guardians: Defenders of Mathematicia to test your knowlege of reading graphs, pictograms and tables.

Guardians: Defenders of Mathematica

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

More lessons for Year 4 and P5
KS2 Maths
7 - 11 Maths
Primary games
The Tracy Beaker Podcast
The Worst Witch: The Enchanted Stones