pictogram is a chart that uses pictures to represent data. Pictograms are set out in the same way as bar charts, but instead of bars, they use columns or rows of pictures to show the numbers involved.

Pictograms are a great way to introduce children to data handling, as they are very visual and generally easy to understand and interpret.


  • Bath crayons
  • Farm animals
  • Tuff tray


Finny decided he was going to make a pictogram to show how many of each type of animal he had.

The first job was to draw the horizontal lines of the pictogram in. He measured how tall his tallest animal was, to make sure there was space to fit it between the lines of his table.

In this pictogram, the key was 1:1, so one toy animal represented one toy animal.


These were Finn’s independent spellings. He spelt them all phonetically and some words were easy to spell correctly, e.g. ‘pig’ and ‘hen’. Some words needed him to apply some of the letter teams, e.g. for ‘cow’ he knew the ‘ow’ sound, or for sheep he needed to know the ‘sh’ and ‘ee’ sounds.

Some spellings were incorrect but phonetically plausible, e.g. ‘goat’ he wrote as ‘gote’ and ‘horse’ as ‘hors’. I didn’t correct any of these spellings because he is only five. Right now he loves writing for pleasure, so I don’t want to take that enjoyment away. Instead we focus on what he’s done well, rather than focussing on the mistakes.


When writing the word ‘gote’, Finny explained that he had used the ‘oe‘ sound, like in ‘toe‘, but made it a split digraph, o-t-e, like the word ‘note‘. Ioan explains all about split digraphs, in the post ‘Phonics Splat’.

He stood his goats up in the first row of his table.

After thinking about it, he decided to lie the goats down so that they wouldn’t keep falling over.


Finny wrote ‘pig’ in the animal column, on the row below ‘goat’.

He put his pigs, in size order, on the pictogram.

When he looked at his pictogram, he wasn’t happy. Three goats took up the same amount of space as four pigs. This made it hard to compare the amounts without counting animals. He decided to spread his pigs out so that they were in line with his goats.


Finny explained why he’d chose the colour green for his ducks. When he started writing ‘ducks’, he started forming his ‘d’ the wrong way. Even though he drew over it, he wasn’t happy with the way it looked, so, we had to pause for him to rub it out.

Re-writing his ‘duck’ and adding the ducks to his pictogram.


Filling in his row for the cows.


Finny sounded out sh-ee-p, then placed his sheep on the tray.


This shows how quickly their spelling changes, a week ago Finny wrote a story called ‘The Three Little Horses’ and spelt ‘horse’ as ‘hurs’. A week later and he’s recognised the ‘or’ sound.


Finny chose to write ‘hen’ rather than ‘chicken’ because it was faster.

Finished pictogram

Finny wanted to use the digital camera to take the picture of his pictogram:

Interpreting his pictogram

Finny told me what his pictogram was showing him.

Next, Finny decided to turn the information on his pictogram, in to a tally chart.

DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)


ELG 10 – Writing:

Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.


ELG 11 – Numbers:

Children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add two single-digit numbers and count on to find the answer.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)

Numeracy Year 2 programme of study


  • interpret and construct simple pictograms, tally charts and simple tables
  • ask and answer simple questions by counting the number of objects in each category and sorting the categories by quantity
  • ask and answer questions about totalling and comparing categorical data.