Another perspective on Halloween candy charts
Access these at: https://www.freemathhandwritingandreadingworksheets.com/halloweenpartyidea.html
Happy "endoftheweekafterHalloweenandcandygraphs"!
It seems like making graphs of candy has become a common part of life in our hallways and classrooms following the candyfilled holiday here in the US.
And there are LOTS of worksheets available all over the internet for how to make the common frequency bar charts of candy (like these provided by freemathhandwritingreadingworksheets.com —>).
But what if we upleveled it a bit next week (or next year)?
Ok, so you may be thinking…come on it is just a fun activity to meet students where they are at (hyper focused on their candy). And we totally, 100% agree on meeting kids where they are at and making graphing fun! (See the “Practice Data Moves without Using Content Data...to Help Teach Your Content” post for more ideas along those lines.)
But here is the deal…without making the activity feel more worky, we can get SO much more out of it in helping our students work with and make sense of data. And that means it is a winwinwin…they have fun (check), we meet them where their candyfocused brains are (check), AND we help them practice skills that will aid in their content learning (check)!
So we will talk through 4 ideas of ways to expand or “uplevel” getting kids graphing their Halloween candy to try. You can use all, some, one, or none of them, your choice :)
Frequency bar charts (bottom left) are great! But there are SO many more ways we can arrange candy into graphs.
Here are some graphs that I put together from my son's Halloween collection this year.

Common Frequency Bar Chart (bottom left)  This is a version of the graph I most commonly see. Candy types are the categories for the xaxis and the yaxis is a frequency count of how many were collected of each candy type. Note, when plotted with the actual candy or without prefilling the category names then students need to think about how to order the categories along the xaxis (here arranged in descending order).

Frequency Bar Chart with a Twist (top left)  This is a frequency bar chart BUT it is by the first letter of the candy type name rather than just by candy type. So the xaxis is ordered alphabetically and different candy types can land in the same category if their brand names start with the same letter. This makes for a fun comparison with the previous frequency bar chart in terms of noticing how they are similar or different.

Pie Chart (bottom right)  This can be a fun way to help students think about other ways to organize and visualize their candy data. It is the same data (candy pieces) but here I have organized them by whether they do or do not have chocolate as an ingredient to get a sense of what portion of my son’s candy overall had chocolate. This also creates a handson way for students to practice what the wedges of a pie chart represent.

Scatterplot (top right)  Yes, we can make scatterplots with candy :) Here I have arranged the candy to compare the number of individual pieces of candy within the package (along the xaxis) to how much chocolate there is in the candy item (along the yaxis). I was curious to investigate if he may have been going for chocolate or for candy items with lots of pieces or both.
Note...I know the spiders, ghost, and teeth are not candy but he got them along the way TrickorTreating and I thought they were fun additions to the graphs.
Options 2: Looking at the Graphs (once made)
So we have our graphs of our candy made (we will continue to use the graphs I made of my son’s candy), now is a great time to think about what we notice and wonder from the graphs. Aka don’t just stop at graph creation…use it to consider the data!
Here are some things that I notice about the candy my son picked up TrickorTreating this year:

There are the most "h" candies...but then again that seems to be because my son collected lots of Hershey’s.

On deeper looking, I notice that there are the most different types of candy that start with "t". And A LOT of types start with "r", "s", and "t". I wonder why. I wonder if others see similar patterns in their candy. I wonder if that pattern is found in other foods.

I notice the majority of my son's candy has chocolate in it, but that there are more different types of nonchocolate candies than chocolate candies. I wonder if others saw a similar pattern. I wonder if there is more variety in types of nonchocolate candy than chocolate candy in the US.

I notice that my son collected the most amount of Hershey's…and that included 3 different types of Hershey’ this year. Which makes me wonder if my son prefers their chocolate. Or I wonder if Hershey’s was the most popular type of candy to give out in our neighborhood. Or I wonder if there are more different kinds of Hershey’s than other candies so that could lead to a lot of packages when grouping by candy type.

I notice lots of Halloween candy have 14 pieces in them and a lot are made of chocolate. But there does not seem to be an increasing or decreasing relationship between the number of pieces of candy and amount of chocolate. I wonder what is the range of number of pieces in a pack of Halloween candy.
What else do you notice? What else do you wonder?
One, it is fun to step back and look at what we have done. But two, this also helps reinforce that making the graph is not the end goal when working with data, but using the graph to make meaning is.
Option 3: What questions can we explore?
Beyond considering what we can learn from the graphs we made, we can also use those graphs to ask more questions — either to explore from our existing graphs OR to explore with a new graph. So, what are some questions can we ask from these graphs about the candy my son received while trickortreating? Here are some that come to mind for me…

What is the range of number of each candy type my son collected?…bottom left graph.

What is the shape of candy frequency by alphabetical letter?…top left graph, but also may help if we added candy types from others in the class.

What is the relationship between pieces of candy and amount of chocolate? …top right graph, but also may help to open the candy up and maybe graph actual pieces rather than packages.

Is there a relationship between number of pieces of candy and amount of chocolate in the candy when we look at all candy types in the US?…building from top right graph and would need more candy in the dataset.

Does my son like chocolate candy more than nonchocolate candy?…bottom right graph, but may be interesting to ask him based off of this hunch from the data.

Do more people in our neighborhood offer chocolate candy?…would need to do a survey of our neighbors’ offerings.

Do more people in general in the US like chocolate more than nonchocolate candy? Are there regional preferences for chocolate vs noncholoate candy?…would need to do a survey of people across the country (and decide who to ask and how many people to ask).
It can be slow at first to think of questions, but it is SUCH an important skill and mindset to have as…
…and Halloween candy graphs are a GREAT way to help students discover or reinforce that.
As they start to ask questions from the graphs it can naturally lead to discussion opportunities about things like:

the reality that we can ask multiple questions from the same graph,

what other information or data would they need to answer the questions,

how would we go about finding or collecting that additional information so it could work alongside the data we do have.
Option 4: How else can we graph the data?
Graphing by hand with manipulatives (aka the graphs that I made from my son’s actual candy) are GREAT…especially for our littles. Graphing the data by hand on predeveloped worksheets (like the ones shared above rom freemathhandwirtingreadingworksheets.com).
But there are other ways that we can visualize the data that can deepen our exploration of the same data without taking more time to graph by hand. (Interested in more about graphing by hand vs using graphing programs? Check out the “How are/should we make the graph?”.)
For example we can record the data in a table and upload it into a graphing program. Here is my son's candy uploaded into the graphing program Tuva (which is free to use the tools and you can upload 5 of your own datasets into the program, before you have to pay) to explore it in different ways...
(Curious about the benefits and limitations of different graphing programs? Check out our toolagnostic take of “Benefits & Limitations of Different Graphing Tools”.)
And the options are truly endless.
Hopefully this prompts some ideas for next year on how to use Halloween candy data in more ways (and dare I say in more complex ways) to have fun graphing their candy AND practicing data skills.
Now time to go enjoy eating some of this candy…