Here is what I found is the most important thing about bar graphs--use data the students connect to. For this categorical data, I collected it from the students. The day before I had them fill out a google form and for each class I used their data--and a few from the other classes to make it 25 different people. I asked basic questions--favorite color, # of letters in first name, # of pets, # of siblings, etc.
We started with taking these notes I came up with the morning of. I rarely have a full page of notes like this without any foldables/cloze notes for my students with accommodations--but I didn't have time to print something.
HOWEVER, notes like this make me EXTREMELY happy. They are so pretty. Early in my teaching career, I had students just write out notes and every time I would have them admire my/their work.
For the class percent bar graph, we graphed for "How many letters are in your first name?"
After we did it as a class, I gave groups the print out of the data I had collected. They had to choose one question and make a relative frequency table and a percent bar graph. Here are some examples:
The students to that data and tried to find which line was theirs and got so excited about it. Instead of just giving them random numbers to make a graph with, giving them something they can connect to has made the difference. Nobody complained about doing this--the only complaints I got was that they didn't get to help enough.