Lesson 5: Common Sense Education: Your Digital Footprint

Common Sense Education | Unplugged


In collaboration with Common Sense Education - Website, this lesson helps students learn about the similarities of staying safe in the real world and when visiting websites. Students will also learn that the information they put online leaves a digital footprint or “trail.” This trail can be big or small, helpful or hurtful, depending on how they manage it.


Common Sense Education has created this lesson to teach kids the importance of understanding the permanence of something posted on the internet. By relating footprints on a map to what a student might post online, students will make important connections between being tracked by a physical footprint on a path and being tracked based on information posted online.


Warm Up (20 min)

Main Activity (20 min)

Wrap Up (15 min)

Assessment (5 min)

Extended Learning


Students will be able to:

  • Understand that being safe when they visit websites is similar to staying safe in real life.
  • Learn to recognize websites that are safe for them to visit.
  • Recognize if they should ask an adult they trust before they visit a particular website.
  • Explore what information is appropriate to be put online.



Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Teacher


  • Digital Footprint - The collected information about an individual across multiple websites on the Internet.


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Teaching Guide

Warm Up (20 min)


This lesson has one new and important phrase:

  • Digital Footprint - Say it with me: Dih-jih-tal Foot-print

The information about someone on the internet.

Pause and Think

  • Ask What does it mean to be safe?
  • When you walk down the street or play in your neighborhood without a trusted adult there, how do you stay safe?
  • Tell students that just as they should stay safe in the real world, they should stay safe when they go into the online world (visiting websites). Make parallels between the answers students gave you about their neighborhood and the online world.

Play the Your Digital Footprint - Lesson Video.

Lesson Tip

If you have access to a computer, feel free to navigate to sites that might showcase each of these types (using extreme caution with your RED selection).

  • Introduce the idea that there are three different kinds of websites that students may have the opportunity to visit.
    • Green: A “green” website is:
      • A good site for kids your age to visit
      • Fun, with things for you to do and see
      • Has appropriate words
      • Doesn’t let you talk to people you don’t know
    • Yellow: A “yellow” website is:
      • A site you are not sure is right for you
      • One that asks for information such as who you are, where you live, your phone number or email address, etc.
      • A place where you are allowed to communicate freely with others
    • Red: A “red” website is:
      • A site that is not right for you
      • A place you might have gone to by accident
      • Filled with things that are for older kids or adults
    • Discuss examples of each of these kinds of sites.

Now, let's see what we can do to keep ourselves safe.

Main Activity (20 min)

Follow the Digital Trail - Worksheet

the Mouse
the Elephant
Whose full name do you know?
Whose house could you find?
Whose birth date do you know?
Whose user name and password do you know?
Who let out a secret on the internet?
Which animal can you describe better from his or her photo?

Lesson Tip

If your students have trouble writing, feel free to do this activity as a group and have students raise their hand when they find clues. This will allow you (or a teacher aide) to help communicate and record the information being shared.

For more in-depth modules, you can find additions to this curriculum at the Common Sense Education - Website page on Scope and Sequence.


  • Place the Digital Trail Squares on the ground, face down, in two different trails, keeping Mizzle the Mouse and Electra the Elephant’s trails separate from one another.
  • Share the stories of Mizzle and Electra. These animals decided it would be fun to put some information about themselves online. They went onto www.wildkingdom.com and posted information. The only problem is that they forgot to ask their parents if it was okay first.
  • Explain to students that they are from the “Things Big and Small” Detective Agency. A hunter has hired them to find out as much as possible about Mizzle the Mouse and Electra the Elephant. The more the detectives learn, the better for their plan to take over the animal kingdom.
  • Divide students into groups of four. Tell them that each group should have a detective that will keep detailed notes.
  • Invite students to go on a hunt for information. Let them know that the information that Mizzle and Electra post can be seen by anyone, including the detectives. Each group should follow the digital trail of both animals, starting with the mouse and then the elephant. Stagger the groups so they are on the trail at slightly different times. Students should fill out their handout as they go.

Wrap Up (15 min)

Flash Chat: What did we learn?

Lesson Tip

Flash Chat questions are intended to spark big-picture thinking about how the lesson relates to the greater world and the students' greater future. Use your knowledge of your classroom to decide if you want to discuss these as a class, in groups, or with an elbow-partner.

  • Who can the detectives find out more about, and why?
  • Which animal has a bigger digital footprint?
  • Mizzle says some interesting things about himself on the Internet. What are they?
  • Is there anything that Electra posted on the Internet that could become a problem for her? If so, what and why?

Take the time to discuss what is appropriate information to share on the Internet, and what is not:

Appropriate Not Appropriate
Interests Address
Hobbies Full Name
First Name Information that would hurt others


Having students write about what they learned, why it’s useful, and how they feel about it can help solidify any knowledge they obtained today and build a review sheet for them to look to in the future.

Journal Prompts:

  • What was today’s lesson about?
  • How did you feel during today’s lesson?
  • Draw some things that you should never talk to a stranger about on the internet. For example, draw your house to represent your address, draw your school, or draw your family.

Assessment (5 min)

Digital Footprint - Assessment

Hand out the assessment worksheet and allow students to complete the activity independently after the instructions have been well explained. This should feel familiar, thanks to the previous activities.

Extended Learning

Use these activities to enhance student learning. They can be used as outside of class activities or other enrichment.

Common Sense Education

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Student Instructions

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Student Instructions