Lesson 2: Why You Count

ELL Grades 3-4

words to   know

Strand: Community Participation


Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Understand how privacy, confidentiality, and citizenship affect the census
  • bullet Understand the concept of community

Materials: Picture Cards, Census Works Student Worksheet 2, drawing supplies, writing/drawing journal

Time Required: Two 40-minute class periodsBefore starting, copy the student worksheets, including the Picture Cards.

    Building Background

  1. Use the Picture Cards to begin a discussion about places in your community. Point to the fire station Picture Card. Explain: This is a fire station. We need the fire station because firefighters help when there is a fire. Repeat as students point to their own Picture Cards.

  2. Repeat the routine with Picture Cards for hospital, police station, and school. Explain: These are all places in a community.

  3. Ask: What are some places in our community? (park, stores, schools, etc.)

  4. Explain: There are many things in our community. Schools, roads, hospitals, and fire stations are part of our community.

  5. Ask: Do you think a big community needs different things than a small community? Let’s find out.

  6. Separate students into two groups, one large and one small. Explain that each group is a community. As a class, take a census of the two groups by counting aloud the number of people in each group.

  7. Write the word park on the board. Define it with students, using pictures or visual clues.

  8. Explain that both communities need at least one park. Ask each group to talk about how many parks their community needs. Then ask each group to draw a picture of the kind of park(s) that they need.

  9. Regroup and discuss how many parks each community decided they needed and how they reached their decision.

  10. Ask: Did the large community want more parks than the smaller community? Why? (There are more people to use the park.)

  11. Move a large number of people from the big group into the small group. Count the new community. Ask: The small group is now bigger. Will they need more parks?

  12. Explain: The census counts all of the people who live in a community. This is how we know if a community is growing larger or smaller.

  13. Guide students in recognizing that all people in a community need to be counted so the community will get all the things it needs; the community will not have enough hospitals, fire stations, and other things it needs if everyone is not counted.

  14. Demonstrate the value of counting everyone in a community. Ask students to write down one question they would like to ask their classmates. Separate students into groups of four. Instruct groups to ask
    each other their questions. Students should keep track of the answers.

  15. Discuss the experience. Ask: Did the answers surprise you? What would happen if someone in your group was missing? Stress the importance of all people being counted during the census.

  16. Using the Student Worksheets

  17. Ask: Many people do not understand the census. They don’t want to be counted. Why not? Explain that census workers do not give information to others, and that it is against the law for census workers to share any information with others.

  18. Distribute Census Works Student Worksheet 2 to each student. Ask students to look at the images of the two characters and describe how they think each character feels based on the images.

  19. Read the first question aloud, having students echo. Then read the answer aloud, having students echo. Discuss the facial expressions and what the dialogue is about. Allow students to make notes in their home language. Repeat for the remaining question-and-answer sets.

  20. Read the sentences at the bottom of the page aloud. Discuss their meaning. Provide class time for students to complete the worksheet.

  21. Wrap-up

  22. Ask: Why is it important that people know that census information is private? How could we tell people? (Make posters, write letters, talk to them, etc.)

  23. Separate students into groups of four. Give each group a piece of drawing paper. Ask each group to create a poster that shows that census information is private. Display the posters in a hallway or at the front entrance of the school.

  24. Student Assessment Activity

  25. Review the concept of community. Separate students into pairs and ask them to discuss and complete the following tasks:

    • Draw two places in our community. Write their names under your picture.
    • Ask: What would you like to have in our community? Write its name under your picture.
    • Draw a big community. Then draw a small community.

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