Lesson 1: It's About Us

ELL Grades K-2

words to know

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Learn how and why the decennial census is conducted
  • bullet Use reading, listening, and observational skills to learn new ideas


Before starting, copy the student worksheets, including the Picture Cards.

Materials: We Count Student Worksheet 1a, We Count: Reading Questions Student Worksheet 1b, scissors, drawing supplies, writing/drawing journal

Time Required:
Two 35-minute class periods

    Building Background

  1. Write the word rule on the board.

  2. Explain: I like to play games. I like to play kickball. (Pantomime kicking a ball and running.) There are rules for kickball. One rule is to wait for your turn.

  3. Ask: What game do you like to play? As necessary, model the frame: I like to play _________________.

  4. Write the names of several games on the board. Instruct students to draw pictures that represent each game. They should write the name of each game below its picture.

  5. Separate students into groups of four. Instruct each group to select one game that they all enjoy. Then have groups write and draw three rules for that game. Answers should include the language frame: One rule is _______________. Ask each group to share their rules and pictures with the entire class.

  6. Guide students in a discussion of the importance of rules for a game. Help them understand what would happen if there were no rules.

  7.  Ask: Do we have rules in our classroom, too? Ask students to describe and demonstrate several
    classroom rules.

  8. Explain: There are rules for drivers, too. (Pantomime driving.) A driver must stop at red lights. Ask students to share other rules they know that drivers must follow.

  9. Explain: I live in the United States, so I have to follow the rules of this country. Driving rules are one set of rules that I must follow.

  10.  Ask: What are other rules that everyone in the United States must follow? Guide a discussion about rules such as stopping at red lights, not stealing, etc.

  11. Explain: Another rule I must follow is that I must answer questions about how many people live in my house. Answering these questions lets us find out how many people live in the United States. This is called a census. I have to answer census questions about my family (use a pen as you pantomime writing answers to questions on a form). It is a rule in the United States.  I will count each adult and child who lives in my house.

  12. Class Activity

  13. Write the word census on the board. Tell students they will now learn how a census works.

  14. Explain: Everyone who lives in this country is counted during a census. Let’s count the students in our class. Have the class count students as you move through the room and touch each student on the shoulder.

  15. Separate students into pairs. Ask each pair to choose an object in the classroom to count (i.e., posters, erasers, pens, etc.). Each pair should draw a picture of the object they counted and write how many they found.

    Using the Student Worksheets
  16. Distribute We Count Student Worksheet 1a. Point to the speech bubbles to make certain students understand that the words in the speech bubbles are the words each character says.

  17. Preview the comic by taking a picture walk before reading. Point to each character as you use statements such as the following: I see a woman. I see a boy. The woman has a piece of paper.

  18. Read the comic aloud, pointing to each character as you read. Then read the comic aloud again, having students follow along with their worksheets. Pause after you read each sentence, and have students repeat it. Tell students to point to the character who is speaking as they repeat  each sentence.

  19. Separate students into pairs and distribute We Count: Reading Questions Student Worksheet 1b. Work with students as they complete the worksheet. Read each question aloud and check for student understanding.

    Student Assessment Activity
  20. Review the concept of rules. Separate students into pairs. Ask each pair to complete the following tasks:

    • Choose a game that you enjoy; draw a picture that shows two rules for this game.
    • Pick one classroom rule; draw a picture that shows this rule.
    • Choose one rule that everyone has to follow; draw a picture of that rule.

  21. Review the definition of count. Separate students into four groups. Ask each group to complete the following tasks:

    • Place a basket or box filled with at least 10 objects in front of each group. Ask each group to count the number of objects in their box and write the number on a sheet of paper.

    • Rotate and repeat until each group has counted the objects in each box.

    • Create a chart on the board that shows how many objects each group counted in each box. Discuss any discrepancies.

  22. Review the definition of census. Select five students to come to the front of the classroom. As a class, complete the following activity:

    • Explain: These students all live in the same house.

    • Ask: How many people live in this house? Count together or call on volunteers to count.

    • Explain: The census will want to know how many people live in this house. What will we write on our census form? Guide students to provide the correct answer.

    • Ask: What will we do with our census form after we count? (Mail in the form.)

Student Worksheet Answers

Student Worksheet1b: 1) Yes;  2) Yes;  3) 7

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