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Using the U.S. Census Bureau for Classroom Activities

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 2/14/2012

The United States Census Bureau has a section on their website devoted for teachers! There are social studies and community lesson plans using census data that include, maps, charts and activities. This is a review of the site, and some of the available classroom activities for teachers.

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    Overview:

    If you are struggling to find quality information, tools and resources to assist in your social studies lesson planning, the U.S. Census Bureau provides awesome teacher resources available on the United States Census Bureau website to help. Teachers will find social studies and community lesson plans, charts, classroom activities, census data, housing, economic and geographic data.

    Website Information: Census in Schools

    Cost: Free

    Students learn more about the census data of their state. This would be a wonderful tool to use when studying your state.

    • They can read information such as, state flower, bird, tree, animal, nickname, fruit, even fossil and more.
    • Students can also learn to read kid-friendly data, such as how many toy stores, fast food restaurants, candy stores, and more, that are in the state.

    Teachers can find:

    • Lesson plans by grade level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
    • Read data and answer questions about the United States as a whole (including PDF downloads)
    • Read data and answer questions by state (including PDF downloads)
    • A scope and sequence teaching guide that can be downloaded and placed right into your lesson plan book, which includes, objectives, standards, curriculum connections and skills that students obtain from the lesson plans
    • Scholastic book references for math and social studies
    • Teachers can do all of the lessons at the same time, or in smaller increments throughout the year when covering that standard.

    Usability of the site is easy. Navigation is broken down into state facts for students, program overview, teaching materials, reference materials and highlights (past and upcoming events for students).

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    Census Classroom Activities for Grades K-2

    In this section, let's review a few of the teaching resources and materials offered on the US Census website specifically for census classroom activities for primary teachers (K-2); however, there are lesson plans for teachers of all grades on the site.

    Map Literacy Chapters 1 (Great States): Students learn how to use a map key and compare data. Students are given information and a color-coded key for the map. They receive the information, color and do a comparison of data. Complete with extension games and definitions to teach the students. Students also learn mathematical terms, most, fewer and fewest through this hand-on lesson.

    Community Involvement Chapters 3 (Where You Belong): Again, an excellent lesson plan. This one is about families and community. Children learn about the needs of family, classroom and community. Meets the social studies standards. It would compliment a need-versus-want unit plan.

    Managing Data Chapters 5 (My Favorite Birthday): What child doesn't love a birthday party? Excellent use of the interest of children here. Instead of the teacher posting the classroom birthdays, the students take a survey to find out which month their birthday's fall into and then the class creates the birthday chart.

    Maps: Students learn about the population of their state and any state in the United States. This would make a great poster to copy and enlarge or one to include in a social studies notebook as a reference tool.

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    Learning social studies and community can be a boring subject for some students to learn and for some teachers to teach. With the use of the US Census Bureau website for kids, the students will enjoy hands on material to gain an understanding of the world around them. Teachers will enjoy the PDF downloads that are easy to use and apply in the classroom setting. Best yet, teachers can be sure they are meeting the standards required in their state.

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  3. Using the U.S. Census Bureau for Classroom Activities