Did you know that the U.S. government has been counting the number of people living in the United States every 10 years since 1790?
By teaching your students why accurately counting our population matters, you’re giving them cross-curricular lessons that can be used across all subjects. The U.S. Census Bureau has developed activities for every student in grades pre-K–12 to help you teach them about why population counting matters. Here are a few of our favorite Census activities:
For the youngest students, here are some activities that give a basic understanding of counting.
1. Explore Population and Math: I Count, You Count!
This is a super fun way to show kids how important counting is. Young children can never have enough practice counting, and it’s smart to show them that adults use counting all the time.
2. Learn About Surveying: Creating and Taking a Survey
Here is a great introduction to what a survey is. Kids will learn why people use surveys, how to create them, and how to use the information you get from doing one.
By upper elementary school, children have a better understanding of why knowing how many people there are might be important. They know numbers matter when playing games or when limited resources are available. This is a great time to get them to go deeper into why knowing the number of people living in the United States and its territories is so significant.
3. City Planning With Census Data
Start older elementary students off by introducing how counting our population affects cities and towns. This activity helps kids see how communities are connected to the census.
4. Study Geography With Scavenger Hunt: Where Is Gina the Geographer?
Your students will love this online scavenger hunt based on a story about a geographer named Gina. She loves to travel and has escaped to an undisclosed location. It is their mission to bring her back to the school.
Middle school students are ready for the challenges of higher-level math and application. They’re starting to think about their futures and how decisions can affect outcomes. Using census data, teach your students how to gather the information they need and put it to personal use.
5. Use Data to Make Decisions: Where Should I Live?
This activity is sure to engage middle schoolers who regularly ask, “When are we going to have to use this?” They’ll learn about the cost of living and make decisions about where they’d like to live when they’re adults.
It’s always great to find a real-world-connection activity. This one helps kids understand congressional apportionment and how counting the population affects it.
High school students crave having real conversations about real problems. Introducing them to big ideas, like how poverty affects our population and why there should be child labor laws, can be eye-opening.
7. Diversity: Minority Entrepreneurship and the Economy
Learning how different people are living and working in our country helps students broaden their understanding of the world. This activity has them evaluating the businesses started and owned by minorities.
8. Researching Social Issues: Poverty in America
This activity can be a part of a broader understanding of poverty and its effects on people. Students will do some basic research around the definition or measure of poverty and then apply their findings.
Knowledge is power. The more students understand our population, the better prepared they are to understand our world. We’re all on this planet together; let’s make sure we know our neighbors. Expanding on this knowledge base by having students talk with their families about what they are learning in school can help open the conversation to acceptance and kindness in our communities.
For even more cool Census activities and resources, visit the Census.gov site.