I enjoy reading Jacqueline Davies’ Tricking the Tallyman: The Great Census Shenanigans of 1790 to 3rd grade students. It’s illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Hey, how often do you get to use words like shenanigans, scoundrel and phrases like “cheese and chowder”? Our 3rd graders have a unit on government and its functions, so it’s a fun way to dive into those ideas.
Georgia Performance Standards SS3CG1 The student will explain the importance of the basic principles that provide the foundation of a republican form of government
c. State an example of the responsibilities of each level and branch of government.
This is how we tie in the book, because it covers the census, taxes, representation, government services, and conscription.
Practice Using Reference Tools
By this time in the school year, we have already used a dictionary, thesaurus, an atlas and an encyclopedia (both print and online), so I decided we would practice again. There are some unfamiliar words and concepts in Davies’ book, so I thought we would become more familiar with them before we read the book.
I divided them up amongst the different reference tools. They looked up tricky words in the dictionary and thesaurus (tally, census, scoundrel, heartsick, shenanigans, conscription, tax, etc). For the atlas activity the students found Montpelier, Vermont (Tunbridge is so small that it wasn’t in our road atlases) and noted what they could learn from looking at the map. Using our online World Book Encyclopedia, the students answered questions about the census.
Students recorded their findings.
The following visit we shared what we learned and then we read the book. I think the students understood the book more fully having familiarity with the new words and concepts.