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Graphing inflation: activity requirements

Lesson description

The “Graphing inflation” activity helps students to learn more about inflation and price changes. Using Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from, students will locate and chart percent changes for various items to measure and learn more about inflation.

Activity objective

Students will:

  • learn more about the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) program
  • learn how to use the BLS CPI database to locate CPI information
  • better understand what inflation is and how it is measured
  • learn how to appropriately label charts.

BLS topics covered

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • Inflation

Grade level

Secondary level

Time to complete

Approximately 45 minutes


Students will need:

  • graph paper
  • a pen or pencil
  • access to and the CPI databases.


Using a printed version of the “Graphing inflation” activity document, have the students read about the Consumer Price Index ( Encourage them to review the CPI database on (

Next, have the students identify each element in the graph. The last part of the activity is to graph prices for certain items. Ask the students to pick the items they want to plot, following the instructions listed on the document.

Activity assessment

At the conclusion of the activity, students should be able to

  • briefly describe what the Consumer Price Index is
  • explain how inflation affects prices
  • identify the government agency responsible for publishing information on inflation
  • accurately label all portions of a graph.

Other resources

You can learn more about the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at (

If you have any questions about this K-12 activity, or would like to provide feedback, please contact the BLS Division of Information and Marketing Services at 202-691-5200, or email us at

Last Modified Date: June 22, 2018