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Activity 8: Census game

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Suggested level: senior

Subjects: geography, history, social studies, economics


This activity uses a game format to encourage students to develop knowledge of Canada's demographic, social and economic features. Questions address the local, regional and national implications and are arranged by increasing difficulty to add to the challenge of the exercise.

Duration: 1 class period

Note: See the Teacher's Guide for general background on the census and census vocabulary.

Learning objectives

  • Develop an awareness of the range of major demographic, social and economic information provided by previous censuses.
  • Realize that all residents of Canada are part of the census and are represented by its findings.
  • Understand that each census is a snapshot of the population and that by comparing current census data with previous census data, the dynamics of the population can be studied.


census, cluster, confidentiality, federal electoral district, House of Commons, immigrant, rural area, sample, settlement, urban area


Getting started

  1. Before students participate in this activity, they will need background information. Discuss or photocopy the information on the census found in the Teacher's Guide, or use Quick Census Facts (also in the Guide). Explain that the census provides a wide range of information about Canada.
  2. Each team should receive Handout 1: Census geography game sheets and Handout 2: map of Canada's population distribution. Allow students a few moments to look at the handouts. The map in Handout 2 will be useful for answering some of the questions in the activity.
  3. Teams could suggest team names. Since each team begins with a score of zero (0), write one large zero for each team below the team names on the blackboard. Decide the order of play (e.g., alphabetical order of team names). You may want to limit the number of categories in play depending on the time available.
  4. Describe how to play the game as detailed in the following “Census activity” section. In brief, a team picks any topic from the six categories on the game sheet, the teacher reads the “answer” and the team provides the “question.”

    Points are awarded or removed depending on whether an acceptable response is given. The point values for the topics increase to reflect their difficulty. Do a practice round using the sample in Handout 1.

Census activity

  1. Each team in turn has the opportunity to select a topic listed under one of the categories on the game sheet (Handout 1). From the Answers and questions, the teacher reads the appropriate answer to the team. Time is then allowed for the team to confer, reach a consensus and respond with the question (about one minute).
  2. If the question is acceptable to the teacher, the team is awarded the number of points shown for the topic on the game sheet. The team's score is increased on the blackboard and the topic is eliminated. Incorrect questions reduce the team's score by the value of the topic and this topic remains in play. Any answer completes a turn and the play moves on to the next team. Eight topics have double points (bonus questions). These can be changed by the teacher.
  3. The game is over when all the topics have been used or when time has run out. Leave time to tabulate the final score and announce the winning team.

Activity 8:  Enrichment

  1. Any of the rules can be altered to suit the circumstances. The number of categories and topics in play can be changed as well as the value of the questions.
  2. Encourage students to create their own answers and questions.
  3. Suggest that students take the materials home and play the game with their families.
  4. Consider the possibility of a challenge match between classes using either the topics provided or those created by the students. Perhaps a team of teachers could challenge the students!

Activity 8:  Answers and questions

Category 1 – Census

Game sheet 1

  • Topic: COUNT (5 points)
    Answer: This survey counts the Canadian population.
    Question: What is the census?
  • Topic: TIME (10 points)
    Answer: This period of time separates each Canadian census so that census information stays up-to-date.
    Question: What is five years?
  • Topic: DATE (15 points)
    Answer: In this month every resident in Canada will be counted.
    Question: What is May 2011?
  • Topic: FARM (20 points)
    Answer: This survey asks farmers for detailed information on their agricultural operations.
    Question: What is the Census of Agriculture?
  • Topic: SAMPLE (25 points)
    Answer: This percentage or ratio of Canadian households will fill out a census questionnaire in the next census.
    Question: What is 100%?

Game sheet 2

  • Topic: HOW (5 points)
    Answer: This way of answering census questions results in improved data quality, time savings for respondents and less paper waste.
    Question: What is the Internet?
  • Topic: LAW (10 points) Answer: ***Double points*** This term means that your census information is kept secret.
    Question: What is confidentiality?
  • Topic: NEW (15 points)
    Answer: If this life-beginning event happened to you in June 2011 you would not be included in the 2011 Census.
    Question: What is birth?
  • Topic: FACTS (20 points)
    Answer: This term refers to all the numbers or values calculated from the census.
    Question: hat are data (or information points)?
  • Topic: TERM (25 points)
    Answer: This term refers to the study of the spatial distribution of population.
    Question: What is geography?

Category 2 – Geography

Game sheet 1

  • Topic: BIG (5 points)
    Answer: This second largest country in land size had a population of 31.6 million people on May 16, 2006.
    Question: What is Canada?
  • Topic: COMPLETE (10 points)
    Answer: In 1951, this Canadian province was included in the census for the first time.
    Question: What is Newfoundland?
  • Topic: ASIA (15 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** This major western Canadian city has the largest number of immigrants from Asia.
    Question: What is Vancouver?
  • Topic: ORIGIN (20 points)
    Answer: 86.9% of Quebec's immigrants live in this city.
    Question: What is Montréal?
  • Topic: ABORIGINAL (25 points)
    Answer: 85% of the population in this territory is of Aboriginal origin.
    Question: What is Nunavut?

Game sheet 2

  • Topic: NEW (5 points)
    Answer: This province has the largest population and is home to 55% of the country's immigrant population.
    Question: What is Ontario?
  • Topic: FOOD (10 points)
    Answer: These Quebec residents, members of the province's fourth largest ethnic group, are famous for their pasta.
    Question: Who are people of Italian ancestry?
  • Topic: URBAN (15 points)
    Answer: In 2006, 79% of Canadian residents lived in these non-rural areas.
    Question: What are urban areas?
  • Topic: NORTH (20 points)
    Answer: In Canada's three territories, we are the largest aboriginal group.
    Question: Who are the Inuit?
  • Topic: SEATS (25 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** This national parliamentary chamber has always had the number of its members determined by the results of the decennial census.
    Question: What is the House of Commons?

Category 3 – Who am I?

Game sheet 2

  • Topic: BIRTH (5 points)
    Answer: The way I came to be living in Canada gives me something in common with approximately 82% of Canada's population.
    Question: What is “born in Canada”?
  • Topic: SMALL (10 points)
    Answer: I live in Canada's least-populated province, but my name is not Anne.
    Question: What is a Prince Edward Islander?
  • Topic: NEW (15 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** I come from the continent that provides most of Canada's immigrants today.
    Question: What is an Asian?
  • Topic: WORK (20 points)
    Answer: I work for the Canadian government agency that develops and conducts the census.
    Question: What is a Statistics Canada employee?
  • Topic: GUIDE (25 points)
    Answer: There are 439,375 people in Canada who are employed in this occupation that directly impacts students.
    Question: What are teachers?

Game sheet 1

  • Topic: ARRIVAL (5 points)
    Answer: Although I came to live in Canada from another country, I am still counted in the census.
    Question: What is an immigrant?
  • Topic: MOVE (10 points)
    Answer: Like many Canadians, I migrated to and settled in this western province during the 1970s to work in the oil exploration business.
    Question: What is an Albertan?
  • Topic: CITY (15 points)
    Answer: I live in Canada's largest urban area (or metropolitan area points) which has a population of over 5 million.
    Question: What is a Torontonian?
  • Topic: ROOTS (20 points)
    Answer: We are some of Canada's earliest immigrants. Our great-grandparents came from the “Emerald Isle” during the potato famines in the 1800s.
    Question: Who are the Irish?
  • Topic: FIRST (25 points)
    Answer: We have always lived in Canada and speak over 50 different languages or dialects and belong to 10 different linguistic groups.
    Question: Who are Aboriginal peoples?

Category 4 – Settlement

Game sheet 2

  • Topic: FEW (5 points)
    Answer: This territory had 0.1% of Canada's population in 2006 and shares most of its southern border with British Columbia.
    Question: What is the Yukon Territory?
  • Topic: CLUSTERS (10 points)
    Answer: This broad and fairly flat region features a settlement pattern of scattered clusters of dots.
    Question: What are the Prairies?
  • Topic: ISLAND (15 points)
    Answer: This west coast island features a population pattern that is concentrated along its eastern side.
    Question: What is Vancouver Island?
  • Topic: WATER (20 points)
    Answer: Quebec features settlements concentrated along this major river.
    Question: What is the St. Lawrence River ?
  • Topic: COASTAL (25 points)
    Answer: These four provinces in Atlantic Canada feature settlement along their coastal borders.
    Question: What are Nova Scotia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; and Prince Edward Island?

Game sheet 1

  • Topic: AREA (5 points)
    Answer: They are 13 political divisions shown on the map of Canada.
    Question: What are the provinces and territories?
  • Topic: DOT (10 points)
    Answer: This is the number of people with whom I share a dot on Canada's 2006 population distribution map.
    Question: What are 999 people?
  • Topic: CLUSTER (15 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** This area in Ontario is home to 1/4 of the population of Canada.
    Question: What is the Extended Greater Golden Horseshoe Region?
  • Topic: DOUGHNUT (20 points)
    Answer: This eastern province's population distribution map has its population clustered around its exterior.
    Question: What is New Brunswick?
  • Topic: GATEWAY (25 points)
    Answer: This western capital city's population appears on the population distribution map as a cluster of dots and is the gateway to Canada's western Arctic.
    Question: What is Edmonton?

Category 5 – Results

Game sheet 2

  • Topic: YOUTH (5 points)
    Answer: The location of these buildings, constructed for education, is determined through population counts for the census.
    Question: What are schools?
  • Topic: ADS (10 points)
    Answer: These television messages are aimed at certain segments of the population whose demographic characteristics were determined by the census.
    Question: What are commercials?
  • Topic: GRANTS (15 points)
    Answer: These political areas of Canada receive money (grants points) from the federal government based on their population as counted by the census.
    Question: What are the provinces and territories?
  • Topic: SEATS (20 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** Information from the census divides voters into areas called ridings from which representatives are elected to this government body.
    Question: What is the House of Commons?
  • Topic: SECTIONS (25 points)
    Answer: Canada is divided into these units to enable the orderly count of the population at census time.
    Question: What are collection units?

Game sheet 1

  • Topic: WATER (5 points)
    Answer: The most striking concentration of population in Canada shown on the distribution map lies along these large bodies of water.
    Question: What are the Great Lakes?
  • Topic: METALS (10 points)
    Answer: The clusters of settlement north of the major population centres in Quebec and Ontario are communities built around this rock-based economic activity.
    Question: What is mining?
  • Topic: NARROWS (15 points)
    Answer: This provincial capital city is the centre of a large concentration of population. It is south of two large lakes but is north of an international border.
    Question: What is Winnipeg?
  • Topic: DOUBLE V (20 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** These two west coast cities form their province's major population concentration and begin with the same letter.
    Question: What are Vancouver and Victoria?
  • Topic: LANDFALL (25 points)
    Answer: This provincial capital appears as the major cluster on the island and faces Europe.
    Question: What is St. John's?

Category 6 – At home

Game sheet 1

  • Topic: HOME (5 points)
    Answer: This name is used to identify our concentration of population as counted by the census.
    Question: What is (name your community points)?
  • Topic: DRAW (10 points)
    Answer: This natural feature was the principal attraction that drew population to our area.
    Question: What is (local answer points)?
  • Topic: MOVE (15 points)
    Answer: ***Double points*** This term is used to describe the movement of people to new areas in the same country.
    Question: What is migration?
  • Topic: WORK (20 points)
    Answer: This money-earning task is the principal reason why people migrate to different areas of the country.
    Question: What is a job?
  • Topic: PLACES (25 points)
    Answer: These concentrations of population offer the largest number and variety of work opportunities and therefore attract even more settlement.
    Question: What are cities?

Game sheet 2

  • Topic: SPOT (5 points)
    Answer: This is how a community of 2,000 persons would be shown on the population distribution map.
    Question: What are two dots?
  • Topic:NEWS (10 points)
    Answer: This reading material depends on a large daily readership in a concentrated area.
    Question: What is a newspaper?
  • Topic: DWELLING (15 points)
    Answer: This type of dwelling is the most common form of shelter in Canada.
    Question: What is a house?
  • Topic: GROUP (20 points)
    Answer: In 2006, the average size of this household unit was 2.6 persons.
    Question: What is a family?
  • Topic: SPEAK (25 points)
    Answer: This term refers to the first language you learned to speak.
    Question: What is mother tongue?

Handout 1: Census geography game sheets

Game sheet 1

Team name:
Team members:

Sample exercise
Topic: MONTH (5)
Answer: This is the month when all people living in Canada are counted.
Question: What is May 2011?

Game sheet 1
1. Census 2. Geography 3. Who am I? 4. Settlement 5. Results 6. At home
COUNT (5) BIG (5) ARRIVAL (5) AREA (5) WATER (5) HOME (5)
TIME (10) COMPLETE (10) MOVE (10) DOT (10) METALS (10) DRAW (10)
DATE (15) ASIA (15) CITY (15) CLUSTER (15) NARROWS (15) MOVE (15)
FARM (20) ORIGIN (20) ROOTS (20) DOUGHNUT (20) DOUBLE V (20) WORK (20)

Handout 1: Census geography game sheets

Game sheet 2

Team name:
Team members:

Sample exercise
Topic: MONTH (5)
Answer: This is the month when all people living in Canada are counted.
Question: What is May 2011?

Game sheet 2
1. Census 2. Geography 3. Who am I? 4. Settlement 5. Results 6. At home
HOW (5) NEW (5) BIRTH (5) FEW (5) YOUTH (5) SPOT (5)
LAW (10) FOOD (10) SMALL (10) CLUSTERS (10) ADS (10) NEWS (10)
NEW (15) URBAN (15) NEW (15) ISLAND (15) GRANTS (15) DWELLING (15)
FACTS (20) NORTH (20) WORK (20) WATER (20) SEATS (20) GROUP (20)
TERM (25) SEATS (25) GUIDE (25) COASTAL (25) SECTIONS (25) SPEAK (25)
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