Stage 1 - data – tally marks

Activities to support the strategy

Tally tables


  • Teacher conducts survey (choose topic to suit class interests)
  • Explain tally marks (one for each vote; look at what happens at every 5th vote)
  • Look at the amount of categories students could choose from, discuss what would happen if too many or too few categories were available
  • Explain every student must vote, but only once
  • At the end of the survey, count the tally marks (as a class) and make sure it represents the amount of students in the class
  • Discuss as a class what they notice about the survey E.g. which is the most popular, least popular, how many votes in a given category etc.


  • Get students to select their own topic to survey (give some ideas)
  • Give instructions on how to lay out their tally table (give between 3 and 5 possible categories, remind why too many or too few categories are ineffective)
  • Allow time for students to survey other members of the class (each student must vote, but only once)


  • Students to count tally marks and make sure they match the amount of students in the class
  • Students to look at the results of the survey and pose questions that can be answered by looking at their tally table
  • Working in pairs, student 1 is to cover their survey categories and quiz student 2 with the questions they have already developed about their tally table
  • Students to swap roles


  • Class discussion looking at what questions were easy to answer, which were difficult to answer, which couldn't be answered by looking at the graph
  • Students to reflect on other uses of a tally table
  • Students to reflect on other questions that could have been posed


  • Use the tally table to create a column graph and picture graph.


Australian curriculum

ACMSP069: Collect data, organise into categories and create displays using lists, tables, picture graphs and simple column graphs

NSW syllabus

MA1-17SP Gathers and organises data, displays data in lists, tables and picture graphs, and interprets the results

Links to other curriculum areas


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