...Quite possibly the most difficult question for fifth grade students to understand. The number one goal for many kids is to break consciously or subconsciously every rule that they can at home and at school. Therefore, explaining to them why RULES are important can often be a daunting task.
However, there is a trick ...I introduce government by sharing with them that tomorrow no teachers are coming to school, there will be no recess monitors, and Mr. Principal is not coming. They will have the opportunity to do WHATEVER they want be prepared for the whoops, hollers, and cheers. I then ask them what they are planning on doing ... the list is always entertaining. Inevitably, there is always someone who says it would be the best day at school ever! Now it is time for the real life senarios that are going to play out during the day. The kids pull out of a hat: "Someone is going to get hurt accidentally at recess", "A strange person will not be stopped and comes into the school since there wasn't anyone in the office and takes a kid", "A bully doesn't get stopped at recess because there are no people to watch them or stop them." I ask kids what other things could happen without any of our rules in place - this list gets darker, and while sometimes humorous, I can always tell that the kids aren't sure this new found freedom is really a good thing. I always have a couple kids say they just wouldn't come, they would like to avoid the chaos. This leads into a great discussion about how having the freedom to do WHATEVER you want also means that mean, unkind, and hurtful people can as well. This leads to a discussion about chaos and fear which is exactly what no government is - ANARCHY.A great read aloud is What if Everybody Did That, it allows students to see why rules are important.
I use this great sheet from Ashleigh's Educational Journey to have the kids map out what broken rules look like. It is a free download - go check it out! I had the kids draw a picture of the rule being followed and then not being followed.
This leads well into why the Founding Fathers felt the need for a national government that would help make rules and the most important document for running our country - The Constitution. Much like a video game instruction book for Mine-craft which my kiddos are OBSESSED over The Constitution lays out what our Founding Fathers believed would build a good government.
Anchor chart is an adapted Pinterest idea from One Teacher's TakeWe summarized the major sections of the Constitution and then created video game covers that summed up the Constitution's purpose. Some students even included the Federalists and Anti-Federalist arguments ;0) Federalists argued FOR strong national government and Anti-Federalists wanted citizen's rights protected.
Yes, my husband made fun of me for printing a Playstation 2 cover ... they've come out with two more of them???...We don't play video games, give me a break, I'm trying to relate ;0)
We even made it into the newspaper for Constitution Day!!
Here are more Government Activities: