Lesson 3: Why We Count

Grades K–4

words to know

Strand: Community Participation

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Understand how a census helps governments
       meet people's needs
  • bullet Recognize the importance of communicating
       the value of the census
  • bullet Create media messages about the importance
       of the census

Materials: Magazines and newspapers, An Important Message Student Worksheet 3 , pencil/pen

Time Required: 40 minutes

    Getting Started

  1. With students, brainstorm different ways in which we receive information. Answers may include: families, teachers, television, news reports, magazines, Web sites, and even e-mail or phone calls. Distribute a simple, age-appropriate example of an ad from a magazine or newspaper and ask students: What do you learn from reading this ad?
  2. Write the word census on the board and discuss the definition.
  3. Draw attention to the classroom calendar. Ask students to count the number of months until Census Day, April 1, 2010.
  4. Explain that the census uses questions to learn about the residents of American Samoa. The questions will help the government learn more about the people who live in each village, such as their age, sex, and how many live in each household. The government then uses this information to decide what new services the people of American Samoa need.
  5. Tell students that they are going to create an advertisement similar to the one they saw earlier in the magazine or newspaper. The advertisement will communicate information about the importance of participating in the census. Students will share their advertisements with their families.
  6. Write the following ideas on the board:
    • New roads
    • Expanded health-care services and facilities
    • Early-childhood education centers
    Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Have each group select one idea. Then ask students to create an ad that makes others aware of how this idea can be affected by census information.
  7. Have students use An Important Message Student Worksheet 3 to create their advertisements.
  8. Remind students to think about why the idea is important not only to themselves, but to their families. This will help them understand that different people have different needs. For example: Students’ families may want new roads because the roads they use to travel to work and school have too much traffic.

Have each pair or group share its advertisement with the class. Discuss the benefits of each one. Encourage students to share their advertisements with family members as well.

You may wish to create a bulletin board of students’ ads to help generate awareness among their peers, teachers, and other school staff members.

Teaching Options

As students have shared earlier in this lesson, print advertising isn’t the only way we receive important information. Depending on the skill level of your students, consider the following alternatives:

  • a mascot or character that represents the main message
  • a scripted television advertisement
  • a script—and the delivery—of a television news report
  • a “pop-up” ad for a news-oriented Web site
  • an e-mail to their family members

Which method do your students think would be best for communicating information to their households?

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