Census History Challenge Teacher's Guide
Description and Objectives
The Census History Challenge is designed to use maps to show students how the population of the United States grew and changed over time. The added element of a quiz game with questions about American history brings students’ attention to the connection between history and population growth.
While this game is intended for students in grades 6–8, it can be played by all ages. It is great practice for those who want to test themselves on their knowledge of United States history.
During Class Time
Here are just a few of the many ways to use the game in class:
1. Offer this game as an optional activity for students who finish their work early. It will keep students engaged in learning and leave you free to work with individuals or small groups. If several students finish early, let them play together and challenge each other.
2. Project the game onto an LCD in front of the class and play it like “Jeopardy,” but with teams working together to come up with the correct answers.
3. Divide students into cooperative groups and assign each group three to five decades. Challenge them to find and write up six new facts for the map and have them fact-check their answers using the textbook or the Internet. This is a perfect opportunity to review the criteria of a Web site students can trust versus one that might have incorrect information. Teach students how to cite a Web site as a reference:
Cleopatra's Palace. Discovery Education. 2004.
Discovery Education. 5 October 2009
2010 Census History Challenge. Scholastic.
(2009). Retrieved October 5, 2009, from
Citation (Chicago Manual of Style)
National Geographic. "Photo Gallery: Cheetahs."
National Geographic: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/photos/cheetahs.html
4. In their cooperative groups students can make up their own multiple-choice questions for each of the decades in the game. Again, make sure students check their facts, and if they use a Web site as a reference, they need to cite it correctly.
Even if you don’t play the game in class, tell students where to find it (http://scholastic.com/census/game2/index.htm ) so they can play at home with friends or family. It’s an entertaining way for everyone to learn or review U.S. history.
1. Use one of the lesson plans in the 2010 Census: It’s About Us program. For example, Lesson 1 for grades 5–6 (http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3752223 ) has information about the history of the census and offers students the opportunity to write their own living history by interviewing trusted adults who have taken part in a past census.
2. Ask students to choose one decade in American history that they have already studied. Challenge them to create their own game format or use an existing game format they are familiar with and write questions based on what they have learned about that decade. The game format can be an online format, a format that works with one of the commercial game players available, or a print format. Remind students to check their facts when writing questions.
3. Invite students to make a series of maps showing the history of their home state. Ask students to write a few sentences about each map: what years does it represent? What significant events happened during those years? What major attractions, if any, opened during those years? What industries began and/or what natural resources were found during those years? How did the population change? Students will find the following Web sites very helpful: http://www.census.gov/schools/facts/ and http://www.infoplease.com/states.html .
4. Try out the Census Classroom Challenge at http://www2.scholastic.com/census/global/activity.htm . You can use it as a writing activity or as a basis for class discussions. If you choose to use it as a writing activity, students can do it online or you can print out a copy of the questions for each student, then use it in class or ask students to do it as homework. If you choose to use it as a basis for classroom discussions, you can print out one copy for yourself and choose the questions that are most appropriate for your classes.