Everyone Counted Every Ten Years

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

This secondary lesson explains what the U.S. Census is and why it is important for everyone. Every ten years, we count everyone who is living in the U.S., from babies to the oldest people. This gives our government a clear idea of who is using services and where we have growth or decrease in population. If we know who lives where, we can make sure to provide services, such as education, health care, public services, and food/housing in the needed places. 

PrintOne Class Session

The learner will...

  • explain the purpose of the U.S. Census.
  • describe what information is collected in the U.S. Census and how it is used.
  • tell that it is important for every American to be counted so we can allocated resources where they are most needed. 

U.S. Census Bureau website https://2020census.gov/en.html

What Is the Census? overview video on the U.S. Census website.


  1. Anticipatory Set
    Talk about how many people are in your family. Think about family in different levels of closeness: those who live with you, those who come to holidays, and those who include cousins and grandparents, and distant relatives. 

    If you wanted to throw a family reunion party and invite everyone who was related to you from all over the country (and world), what would you need to know and do to prepare? Talk about how important it would be to know things like this:

    • their work schedule
    • how they will travel to the event
    • where they live
    • where they will sleep
    • what language they speak
    • can they afford to travel to the party
    • how many in each family
    • how many in all
    • ages in each family
    • what special needs are there
    • are there any infants
    • what space will hold all of you
    • what diet requirements they have

    How does knowing these things help you plan a good gathering? What other things would you want to know?

  2. Just like finding these answers helps you plan the services for your family gathering, a census helps the government, nonprofits, and businesses plan services to better serve all people in the country. 

    View this overview video on the Census website.

    Ask these two questions and have the students find the answers by reading about the Census in the Constitution in this article. Discuss the answers. 

    1. How is the purpose of the U.S. Census fundamentally different from previous purpose for a census?
    2. According to the Constitution, what must be true of the data collected by the census questions if they go beyond counting?
  3. To get an idea of what information is collected in the census, have students take the Statistics in Schools Quiz on the U.S. Census Bureau website. This could easily be made into a Kahoot quiz.  

  4. To help students see the value of the data collected over the years, send them to this page that puts data into meaningful graphs called visualizations. Send them on a scavenger hunt through the graphs with the handout below. Talk about the ways that individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and the government can use this information to make decisions for the common good.

  5. Filling out the Census is an important action for the common good. Acting for the common good is a Core Democratic Value. Review the Core Democratic Values here

    It is an act of citizenship to let the leaders know our basic information so they can serve us better and understand the diversity of perspectives, attributes, and needs. The Census counts people who have needs the three sectors provide. If we don't know where there are people with a low income, we cannot provide them with resources and opportunities to feed their families. 

  6. What can you do to let others know about the importance of the Census? Brainstorm things a young person can do. Make a plan, take action, and tell about what you did. Reflect on the action, its impact, and how you feel about it. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the philanthropic ideas embedded in a nation's founding documents.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give political and historic reasons why civil society groups have formed in the nation and world.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify constitutional principles that protect minorities in a republic. Relate these principles to the role of civil society organizations.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
    4. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      2. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
      2. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.