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Vermilion Parish Schools

Activity 2: What is Government? (GLEs: 16, 17, 18, 19)

Materials List: Constitution poster; chart paper; It is the Law, Making a Law, Law Making in the United States, or similar books

Tell students that, like the classroom and community, the country has laws.  These laws are made by the government.  Write the term government on the board.  Have students use a concept map to explore the concept of government.  This can be done whole group or in small groups. Using brainstorming (view literacy strategy descriptions), have students make a list of words that they can associate with government.  Share and discuss studentsí ideas, making sure they have included words like laws, parish, governor, president, mayor, state, court, and judge on their concept maps

The teacher will use the directed reading-thinking activity or DR-TA (view literacy strategy descriptions), which invites students to make predictions, and then check their predictions during and after the reading.  The teacher will build background knowledge by holding up a copy of the U. S. Constitution and asking students if they have ever seen this document before.  Then the teacher will lead a discussion that elicits information the students may already have about the Constitution.  Studentsí ideas and information should be recorded on the board or chart paper. The  Constitution for Kids Site* provides a simple description and basic information that will help students understand the Constitution.

The teacher should choose one of the following books or a similar book to read to the students: It is the Law, Making a Law, or Law Making in the United States.  Discuss the title of the book and have students make predictions about the story.  Write student predictions on the board or on chart paper.  Then read the book, stopping occasionally to check studentsí predictions and to revise predictions when necessary.  Once the reading is completed, use student predictions as a discussion tool to help students understand the connection between government, laws, and the Constitution.  Discuss with the students how the Constitution is the basic law for our country.  Tell students the Constitution divides our government into three branches.  Discuss the three branches of government with the students.  Help students understand that groups of people who make laws, enforce laws, and lead our country make up our government. 

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