Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tackling Government

I must admit. Teaching government to 5th graders in NOT my favorite unit. Personally, the learning and exploring of what our Founding Fathers created is incredible. However, so many of the things that they did are so above my kids that I feel like I am watering everything down to the point where it becomes "not as interesting." How can one get a child, who basically has no life experiences yet besides playground and sibling issues, who think that everyone's lives are just like their own, appreciate the system that our Country has created to protect the rights of her citizens? Well, I have been trying! and this particular group of kids is REALLY getting it!  {proud teacher dance}

A little of what we have been doing: 
Constitution day fell perfectly within this unit. I teased the kids that everyone else had to stop what they were doing and "fit" it into their schedule and that we didn't! hehe 

For reading, we discussed the preamble to the Constitution and broke down the difficult words. I read to them the cute picture book "We the Kids" and we discovered the meaning by "Reading the Pictures". They did really well with this and we used our new meanings to create a more simple/modern preamble. We also began memorizing the Preamble this week. The students have 2 weeks to work on memorizing it - they can share it with me anytime during the next 2 weeks. To see why I do memorization and get more information about it see {this} blog.

In our Social Studies notebooks we drew a "Tree of Government" (Great SS interactive notebook ideas from Second Grade with Mrs. Wade... I don't know how she gets her second graders to do this! I can barely get my fifth graders notebooks looking halfway like this!) with the Constitution as the roots and filled in the three branches along with three of their main duties. 
Some of them turned our really good....(note: we hadn't finished filling in the Judicial branch ..)
Some of them turn out, ... well ... not so great. But I thought I would put them up because it seems everyone always displays their "best" students work and make the rest of us feel like failures when our kids turn out more like this.... ha! SO here is to reality and the reminder that we all have both in our classrooms!
 I also taught the kids some hand  motions to help them remember the branches and their main jobs. I am going out of a limb for this, posting a video and all of myself. This takes guts for me, don't laugh! I would much rather do this in front of my kiddos. ugh.
The kiddos "Teaching" their partners the hand motions
We discussed the Constitution and compared it to our "Superhero Hulk" and the Bill of Rights as it's "Sidekick" To see this lesson and our characters click here
Then we watched an AMAZING movie produced by Discovery Education Streaming that shows students what life would be like if we did NOT have the Bill of Rights (watch for a couple places where there is some inappropriate language - you would THINK that an educational video for kids wouldn't have any but these days ...ugh) Here is the link for the video - Bill of Rights Fright 
This video REALLY helps kids understand the importance of our Rights and why our Founding Fathers created a Democratic Republic. 
We learned about the different types of Governments. Oligarchy, Monarchy, Dictatorship, Democracy, Republic, and Anarchy. I created hand motions for each of them ... I made a video to show you. Get that smirk off your face! 
For those of you who read my blog (the few of you! ha!) you know that I am very passionate about history! I do teach my kids the different types of government because the vocabulary is used often and it is important for them to understand each type, however, there are technically only TWO types of government that are stable in our world today. And NO, America is not a democracy. Watch this video for a in depth explanation of the types of Government (Note: this video is WAY above my kids heads ... I use it for my own teaching and plans. Better for upper middle and high school age kids)
Sticks waiting and ready for our Branches of Government mobiles ... see my post on Branches of Government to see the finished product :)
And books set out for reading. 


  1. I love the "branches" activity in their notebooks! I am your newest follower and look forward to reading more about you and your classroom.


  2. I have to admit, this is the unit that I really don't enjoy teaching! I love your branches of government mobile. I'll definitely be getting some ideas from you when I teach it this year!

  3. Oh my goodness--this is so timely for me. We have a 2 week mini-unit on Civics every fall that is one of my least favorite to teach. It's coming up, and you've given me some great ideas, so thank you!

  4. We get to this in the spring, but I am bookmarking this page. I'm a fellow fifth grade teacher and your newest follower!

    Fifth in the Middle


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