Lesson 1: It's About Us

ELL Grades 5-6 

words to   know

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Understand how and why the decennial census is conducted
  • bullet Build civics vocabulary
  • bullet Recognize how privacy, confidentiality, and citizenship affect the census

Materials: Who Do We Count? Student Worksheet 1a, Private! Student Worksheet 1b, drawing paper, drawing supplies, writing/drawing journal

Time Required: Two 40-minute class periods

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

    Building Background

  1. Explain: People need many things. Display the Picture Card for hospital. This is a hospital. Why do we need hospitals? Provide this oral sentence frame: We need a hospital because ________________. Repeat with the Picture Cards for fire station, police station, and school.

  2. Explain that every 10 years the U.S. government counts the number of people who live in this country. This count is called a census. When the government and local businesses know how many people live in a particular town or city, it is easier to figure out what each town or city needs.

  3. Ask: What would happen if a town had many kids? What would happen if a town had few kids? Let’s find out.

  4. Separate students into two equal groups. Define many and few using crayons, chalk, paper clips, or other classroom objects.

  5. Give one group (Group A) a sheet of drawing paper that says KIDS. Give the other group (Group B) a sheet of drawing paper that says ADULTS.

  6.  Explain to Group A: You are kids. Draw what a town with many kids would need.

  7. Explain to Group B: I am an adult. Draw what a town with many adults would need.

  8. Provide time for groups to draw and discuss. Provide corrective feedback, if necessary. Then ask each group to share their drawings with the entire class.

  9. Ask: What is different about the two drawings? Why are they different?

  10. Using the Student Worksheets

  11. Explain: The census counts all of the people who live in each town in this country. This is how we know what a town needs.

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

  13. Ask: How do you think the government counts everyone? (A census form with about 10 questions is mailed to each home in the country. Sometimes census workers visit homes and ask the questions in person.)

  14. Demonstrate counting. Tell 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. Explain that all adults and children who live in the home must be counted, even someone who lives in the home but is not part of the family. Point out that family members who do not live in the home are not counted on this census form. Ask students to give examples. Allow students to draw their responses on the board (i.e., college student, soldier).

  17. Distribute copies of Who Do We Count? Student  Worksheet 1a. Read the page aloud and make certain students understand the words college and soldier. If they do not, use the illustrations from the worksheet to reinforce understanding.

  18. Separate students into small groups and instruct them to complete the worksheet. Monitor them closely as they complete the activity, making notes regarding corrective feedback for important terms used during the discussion.

  19. Distribute copies of Private! Student Worksheet 1b. Discuss the privacy facts. Provide class time for students to complete their drawings.

  20. Wrap-up

  21. Ask: Why is it important that people know about the census? What could we do to tell them? (Make posters, write letters, talk to them, etc.)

  22. Separate students into groups of four. Give each group a sheet of drawing paper. Ask each group to create a poster that shows one or more of the privacy facts. Display the posters in a hallway or at the front entrance of the school.

  23. Student Assessment Activity

  24. Review the concept of counting a household. Separate students into pairs and ask them to complete the following tasks:

    • Discuss the people in your households. Count  them together.

    • Draw a picture of your households.Below your picture, write: I count _____________ people in my household.

    • Below your picture, write: I count _______________ people in my household.

  25. Review the concept of privacy. As a class, discuss if these statements are true or false:

    • The Census Bureau CANNOT share your information with other government agencies. (True)

    • LAWS protect your personal information from being seen by anyone outside the Census Bureau. (True)

    • Census workers can go to JAIL if they give away any information. (True)

    • Information about families is kept SECRET for 72 years. (True)

Student Worksheet Answers

Student Worksheet1a: Gomez family: Count all family members who are shown inside the house. Do not count Bob Gomez or Maria Gomez. 

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