Car board game.

CareerStart lessons: Grade six

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will become aware of how people travel abroad in Europe and South America by creating a passport.
  • Students will develop a better understanding of careers in transportation and border security.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Old student pictures (Have each student bring a photo from home — preferably wallet-size)
  • Various colors of 8 1/2 x 11 construction paper (One sheet per student, plus extras)
  • Pencils
  • Black or blue pens
  • Colored markers (crayons or colored pencils can be used if markers are unavailable)
  • Examples of passports (Students can bring these from home or you may find copies online)
  • Plain copy paper or notebook paper
  • Rulers

Time required for lesson

90 minutes. Homework time may be needed for students to finish creating their passports.

Advance preparation

Before the lesson, try to find a copy of a passport to show the class as an example, and/or allow time for your students to bring in a passport from their parents or relatives. A few visual samples (3 or 4 at best) are very important. Many students have never seen a passport and need a visual reference during the activity. You might also want to visit the website Bureau of Consular Affiars - Passports, which can answer many questions you or your students might have about passports.


  1. Write the following question on the board: “What people, places, and things are required in the real world of travel?” Allow 6-7 minutes for students to brainstorm answers aloud.
  2. Direct the discussion so students consider all the aspects of travel — not just the fun side. Talk about all the different kinds of jobs and laws that help to make certain that travel is safe. (National Security personnel, border patrol officers, inspection officers for food and goods, etc.) While discussing these ideas be sure to focus on passports and the role they play in national security. Explain that a passport contains vital information that officials require in order for travelers to visit countries in Europe, South America, and other continents. Show students examples of passports or project digital images of them. (10 min.)
  3. Tell students they are going to pretend they work for the U.S. government in the State Department creating passports for people. For practice they will need to create fake passports for themselves. Pass out materials and have students get out their markers and notebook paper. (5 min)
  4. First have the students place 3 sheets of notebook paper on top of one piece of construction paper, and then make a hamburger fold with each of them. The notebook paper will go inside for journaling later. The construction paper is the passport cover. Remind students of the needed personal information: Name, age, sex, eye color, hair color, birth, and a unique identification number. (Note: be sure students don’t use their real social security numbers.) On the board or overhead, write the information in the order in which it appears in a real passport, or show an image of a passport. This will give students an easy model to duplicate. Tell students to write this info neatly (in pencil) on the inside cover of the construction paper. After using pencil, have the students trace the information with a marker or pen.
  5. On the front side of the cover allow students to be creative. Instead of using the national symbol, have students create their own cover design using their favorite American symbol.
  6. Write the following requirements on the board so that students know what a quality passport should look like:
    • Write PASSPORT on the cover.
    • Color the cover with a creative design.
    • Write the necessary personal information on the inside with a picture included.
    • Staple it all together like a book when it is finished. Staple down the middle, with the book open flat.
  7. While students work, walk around and facilitate their creativity. Some students may spend too long designing their passport covers, so you may wish to help students who struggle with this part. (50-55 minutes) If students don’t complete their passports in class, have them finish them for homework.
  8. Close with a class discussion. Ask the students who they think creates and checks the information on passports, and why these kinds of jobs are so important.


Assess by completed passports using the following rubric:

Creative passport cover
(40 points)
Personal information
(30 points)
(20 points)
(10 points)
(100 points)

Extension Activity

The students’ passports may be used as journals throughout the course of study. Have the students use the notebook paper in their passports to write a journal entry for each new country you study in class. Have students pretend they visited the country and write about the towns they visited, what they liked best, and what they learned on their trip. Students may also create a picture of what they saw or an imitation stamp like those used on real passports.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 6

  • Goal 4: The learner will identify significant patterns in the movement of people, goods and ideas over time and place in South America and Europe.
    • Objective 4.01: Describe the patterns of and motives for the migrations of people, and evaluate their impact on the political, economic, and social development of selected societies and regions.