Kinesthetic Activity – Human Box and Whisk-ers Plot

I emphasized that there are 5 syllables so you need 5 points.  I had the students hold up their fists and then count off with their fingers while saying, Box and Whis-kers Plot over and over, and over.

After going over vocabulary and doing some easy examples, I had the students access their own measurement data located in our Google Spreadsheet.  My students always care more (and remember more) about anything if it has something to do with them.

We have two sections of 6th grade.  For homework I assigned the students to make TWO box and whiskers, one for each section of the class.

The next day in class I put students plots up on the Elmo to compare the heights of each class. They love showcasing their work and comparing the two sections.

We then did a kinesthetic activity by making a human box and whiskers plot.

  1. I had all of the students line up from shortest to tallest.
  2. I asked then what points we plotted first (extremes) and had those student step forward.
  3. Then, we found the median and had that student step forward.
  4. I asked the shorter end, “Who are you?” and they yelled, “The lower set of data!” and then we found the lower quartile and had that student step forward.  I did the same thing with the upper quartile.

In one class the numbers worked out and we did not have to average any two students to find the quartiles.  In the other class, it did not, so we had two students stand in a line.  We joked that we added them up and split them into two.  (“I’ll stand on your head.  No, you can stand on my head!”)  It was fun!

Students enjoyed the human box and whiskers plot.  They got to move around plus it was very visual.  With the numbers taken out, I feel like some students really understood what was going on instead of just marking off numbers looking for the median.

Next year… I am going to use something (yarn maybe?) so we can actually “box” the students into their quartiles and make the whiskers.  I could also cut out construction paper “dots” for the students who step forward to hold.  This would also be a cute instructional iMovie starring the students.

13 thoughts on “Kinesthetic Activity – Human Box and Whisk-ers Plot

  1. What a great activity. I’ve always thought box and whisker plots were kinda weird and reviewing them was boring. Lining kids up is a great way to really show the data, love it!

    • So funny you say that. I took FOUR semesters of Prob/Stats in undergrad and grad school AND worked in Market Research for two years and never studied, used, or even saw a box and whiskers plot. Thus, I didn’t even teach it last year. However, the powers that be included it in the Common Core so I am complying this year. In my opinion, if Excel can’t make it, then it’s not a great graph! 🙂

  2. I did a similar activity this year with my high school class, but instead of using heights, I gave a bunch of students print outs with the names, ages, and photos of Justin Timberlake’s girlfriends (randomly chosen celebrity with many exes). They lined up by age and then I gave the minimum a Mr. Potato Head (a toy for the kid), the maximum got a mumu and old lady wig, the median got a pan balance witha 50 yd line on it, and the box I outlined with yarn. It worked out well because he was rumored to have dated Mila Kunis, so we started with her out, then added her in to see how it shifted the points and what shifted. In one of the sections we extended it by adding in a bunch of points towards the minimum to see how that shifted the 5 points and that worked out well. Using the yarn made it easy to emphasize that 50% of the data fell inside the box when I had all the people touching yarn step forward, and the people without step back.

  3. OMG!!! This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I’m such a huge advocate of kinesthetic lessons. Students remember these lessons far longer than by just sitting in a classroom and taking notes and such. Thank you for thinking out of the box on this one! 🙂

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