I start class by holding up or pointing out four bins of cubes sorted into four colors (you can use any small object for this exercise).
In these bins, I have all of our cubes. In the first bin, I have  red cubes. In the second bin, I have  green cubes. In the third bin, I have  yellow cubes and in my last bin, I have  black cubes.
I want to show this information so that we know how many of each cube we have in our classroom.
Turn and talk to your neighbor: How can I show this information clearly?
Students may use previous knowledge to say that we can display this information using a bar graph, a pictograph, or a table.
I heard a lot of interesting ideas about how to display this information but today we are going to use a table to show this information. We have used tables before to display information, but this time our tables will include three digit numbers!
Today we are going to work on building tables and reading tables. I want to build a table using our cube color data so I am going to create a table with two rows and five columns. I need to make sure that my table is labeled so that others can understand it. How could I label my table?
Given students' familiarity with tables, they might suggest labeling the columns as " color of cubes" and "number of cubes".
Now, we're going to enter my data into this table so it’s easy to read. I have students help to enter data into the table...
Now that we have organized our data we can more easily ask and answer questions.
Which color do we have the most of? How do you know?
Make sure that students are able to explain using mathematical language what MOST means.
Which color do we have the least of? How do you know?
Make sure that students are able to explain using mathematical language what LEAST means.
Which color do we have the second most of? How do you know?
Now you are going to work in partners to look at some data and build a table. Then you will answer questions about it. Most of the tables we have been working with have two digit numbers! This table uses three digit numbers. As you work with your partner, make sure that you are double checking your work to make sure that it is accurate.
Students will work in heterogeneous pairs to read a table and answer simple questions. As I circulate I look for common misconceptions (confusion over vocabulary most/least, column/ row confusion). I also use this time to ask guiding questions: How did you choose to set up your table like that? How do you know that ________ is the most? How do you know that _________ has the least?
When students have finished, bring them back together to go over a couple of the questions—have students share their answers and HOW they got their answers.
During the independent practice, students build their own tables and answer questions about it. This task enables students to deeply understand how a table is created and sets students up for success when we start making tally charts and bar graphs.
I give students groups of beans, counters, candy and marbles separated by color or another defining characteristic. These amounts can be pre-counted or students can work together to quickly count each group (this is excellent counting practice for students but may take a long time). They then set up their table using the attached worksheet.
As students work, I circulate to check student understanding and ask guiding questions:
How did you label your columns? Why?
What did you do to make sure your work is accurate?
What [color] do you have the most of? What [color] do you have the least of? How do you know?
Today we read mathematical tables that use three digit numbers. In order to show what we know we will take an exit ticket! This exit ticket will show me what you know about building tables with three digit numbers. Work silently on your exit ticket.