Lesson Plan, Grades 3-5, Adaptable to Grades 6-12

Carol Lane White River School, Hartford

Introduction: This lesson shows students how to turn population data into simple density maps which can help them make decisions about their world.

Objectives: The students will:

(1) work with population data and transfer their results into density maps, and

(2) decide on the best location for a school store based on population density.

Geographic Theme: Location and Place

National Geography Standards: Number 3 (how to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments), and Number 9 (characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations).

State Geography Standard: State standard number 6.7.c (use maps, globes, and other geographical images for a variety of purposes, such as acquiring knowledge, making decisions, interpreting information, and analyzing perspectives).

Time: 2 or 3 class periods


(1) School Population Data handout (see below right) and a blank floor map of the school for each student

(2) statistics of the student population by classroom, either gathered by the students before the lesson, or obtained from the office and Xeroxed with one copy per group

(3) crayons or colored pencils, rulers, and calculators

(4) overhead transparencies of the handouts and a marker pen


(1) Divide students into small groups. Give handouts to the group. Each student should have one floor plan and data handout, but the group can share the population data for the students in each class.

2) Show students how to enter the data into their charts. List the grades in your school in order under the column marked Classroom using either the teachers' last names or the room numbers. Then place the number of students under the column marked Total Students.

(3) Examine the data and divide the totals per class into three parts: high, medium, and low density. Have students choose three colors to represent the totals in the legend. Usually the darker the color, the denser the area. For example:

Students in Class               Color
           25-30                          red
           20-24                      lavender
        under 20                       pink

(4) Have the students make a legend on the map, and then color the classrooms according to the three categories in the legend.

(5) Put up the maps and hold a class discussion about the best place for the school store's location.

- Primary question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of one location over another for the school store?

- Secondary questions: What are the human characteristics of this place? Which conditions might cause problems? Which locations might offer the best connections to human interaction (site to situation)?

Assessment: Give each student a blank sheet of paper divided in half. On the top half, have the student draw a map of the ideal school store location. On the bottom half, each student should write why this site was chosen. Develop a rubric to assign a grade based on your own experience with your class.

Adaptations to Higher Grades and Extensions:

(1) Students in grades 6-12 could do this lesson with census data listed by county or country to decide on a specific store location. (Vermont census data can be obtained from the World Wide Web at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50000.html, this page will take you to a quick facts page where county by county data can be found.  Data from different countries can be obtained from the Population Reference Bureau at http://www.prb.org. )

(2) Students in upper grades could create population pyramids for several locations to locate a store that would cater to a specific age group, e.g., teens or senior citizens.


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