Computer Skills Curriculum
Database Lesson Plan

Title: Introduction to Databases

Grade: 3
Competency 2.5: Describe the difference between a print database and a computer database.

Measure 2.4.1: After a visit to the media center, list examples of both print and computer databases (e.g., dictionary, on-line catalog, print encyclopedia, CD-ROM encyclopedia).

Materials Needed: Pre-activity: index card per student, student textbooks, other class objects. Activity: dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, card catalog; information or video on or a working example of an electronic version of a dictionary, CD-ROM encyclopedia, on-line newspaper, or automated card catalog.

Time: Two class sessions: one for pre-activities, one for activity.

Terms: Database, Print Database, Computer Database




With the Students

  • 1. Discuss the concept of a collection of items: the class is a collection of students, the classroom is a collection of desks and chairs, the class file cabinet or bookcase is a collection of papers or books, the teacherís gradebook is a collection of student names and grades.
  • 2. Have the students make a collection of items by
    • a. each student in one of four groups placing one of their textbooks in a group stack. Have the students discuss the number and type of items in their stack and then compare it to the stacks made by the other groups.
    • b. each student completing an index card with the following information: name, age, eye color, number of siblings, favorite pizza topping. List the items on the board or overhead. Have the students suggest sub-collections for the siblings and pizza topping categories. Have them raise their hands for the sub-group they have on their index card and record on the board or overhead the number of hands for each sub-group. Lead the class in discussing collections within collections (i.e., pizza topping collections within the class group of information on the cards).
  • 3. Introduce the term database as the name for a collection of items.

With the Media Professional

  • 1. Review the pre-activities for the students.
  • 2. Identify the examples of print and computer databases available in the media center. Plan to obtain information or videotapes on computer databases of the selected print examples of dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, and card catalog. Discuss any other computer databases available in the media center.
  • 3. Discuss the activity to be conducted in the media center to introduce the students to the examples of both print and computer databases.


  • 1. (In the media center with the Media Professional) With an example of a dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, and group of card catalog file cards on a table, discuss the concept that each is a collection of items. Have the students compare how these collections differ from the collections they made in pre-activities. Lead the students in recalling the term "database" for these collections.
  • 2. Show the students examples (pictures, videotapes, or actual products) of the computer database for each of these print databases. Discuss how each can be used; demonstrate any actual products available. Example: Ask the students for a topic they would like to look up in the encyclopedia. Have two students find the topic in the print encyclopedia. Use a CD-ROM encyclopedia to look up the same topic. Discuss the difference in the information found.
  • 3. Ask the students what other collections in the media center they think should be made into computer databases. Discuss their ideas and show pictures of or demonstrate any other computer databases available.


After the visit to the media center, have the students list examples of both print and computer databases. This could be a list on a paper handout with two columns, a labeling of paper cut-outs of a book and of a computer, or a labeling on a printed handout. For example, on a handout, label with example name the print databases on the spines of a shelf of books and label with example name the computer databases on the screens of computers.