Grades 3-4: Lessons and Printables
Your Government, Your Voice!
To introduce students to basic civics and current-events analysis
- Define the term citizen (community member with rights and responsibilities). Can students name any of their rights as a U.S. citizen? What are some responsibilities of being an adult U.S. citizen?
- Test prior knowledge. Ask students if they know who runs our country. Can they name the current U.S. President? Do they know when he was elected?
- Explain that President Obama will soon have been in office for 100 days. During the first 100 days of a new administration, people take an especially close look at the President’s work. After an election, many voters whose choice for President won want that candidate to live up to campaign promises as quickly as possible.
- "This president has inherited the most difficult first 100 days of any president, I would argue, including Franklin Roosevelt,"—Vice President Joe Biden. Why? Ask the class to explain Biden's quote. Have students name major issues facing the nation. Make a list on the board and inform students about ways the Obama administration has addressed some of these issues since January. Alternately, present the list of issues that the President cites online in his agenda, and ask students if they’ve heard of any of the agenda items listed and what they know of them. When introducing controversial issues like the economy or health care reform, explain that many people feel differently than the President about these issues and about his response to those issues.
- What are some ways in which students can evaluate new Presidents? What are some criteria by which students can evaluate the Obama administration?
- Break the class into three groups. Ask one group to name ways in which a teacher keeps students safe, happy, and learning when in class; ask a second group to name ways in which a parent keeps kids safe, happy, and growing strong; and ask a third group to name ways in which U.S. Presidents keep citizens safe, happy, and living well. Make a chart with three columns on the board, and tell students to write responses in their group’s column. Compare and contrast as a class: How are these responsibilities similar and different?
- To go in-depth into the President’s handling of one issue pertinent to America’s youth, print Scholastic News Online's article “Health Care for More Kids,” about the Senate’s passing of a revised state children’s health insurance program. Assign skill page “Health Care: Just the Facts” for homework to test comprehension.
- Take students to the computer lab to tour the White House’s Web site with the “Web Hunt at the White House” quiz. To answer these detail questions on how their government works, students will use robust information on current events from a constantly updated primary source. Define primary and secondary sources for students. Ask students whether the White House’s Web site is primary or secondary, and why. What makes a Web site different from other primary sources like documents or video recordings? Can a primary source be biased? Is this Web site biased?
- After reviewing some problems and prerogatives of the current administration, students will formulate an opinion in a letter using the skill sheet “Dear President Obama.” Excite students by talking about Ty'Sheoma Bethea, an eighth-grader from South Carolina who asked President Obama in a letter to increase funding for her school. Bethea was invited to attend the President’s first speech to Congress, where he even quoted her letter, saying, “We are not quitters.” Send student letters to the White House!
- White House Web site: The Agenda
- White House Web site: Contact the White House
- White House Web site: President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address
- YouTube: Obama's Special Guest
- YouTube: The President Addresses Joint Session of Congress
- YouTube: whitehouse's Channel