Civics Lessons

Grade Level: Grades K-5

The Tired King

Students learn about the three functions of government in this interactive role play.

The Problem of SpongeBob RoundPants

This short scripted mock trial for grades 4-6 involves SpongeBob suing Abercrombie and Fish for pants that don’t fit. Scripted parts allow the trial to move quickly to jury deliberations during which the student jurors actually decide the verdict of the case.

Understanding Contracts

In this lesson, students are asked which of two chocolate bars – one with nuts, one without – they prefer. A single representative is taken from each preference group. These representatives are given the chocolate bar that they prefer less, motivating a contractual trade. One student unknowingly has an empty wrapper, eliciting debate after the trade is completed. The class concludes by discussing possible equitable solutions.

Rules, Rules, Rules-The Eraser Game

Students reflect on when and why rules are needed and the importance of rules in the classroom or in a community setting.

Yertle the Turtle Mock Trial

This mock trial exposes students to the mechanics of a jury trial, and stresses the importance of functioning as a juror.

What Is A Good Rule? Creating Our Ballot Questions

This lesson offers students the opportunity to play the role of voters with special interests. Students draw up initiatives for new classroom or school rules. Working in groups of four or five, students share their ideas and rationale for new rules.

Connecting the Separate Powers

In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the separation of powers using role playing and discussion. Students will identify which parts of the Constitution provide for the branches of our government, and will categorize public officials into one of these three branches.

Interpreting the Law

Students learn why laws need to be interpreted by discussing laws/constitutional provisions. They present their findings to the class.

The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Understanding the President’s Job

Through these activities, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.

What Makes a Court Supreme?

The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand the original purpose and
powers of the Supreme Court according to the Constitution. Students learn the Supreme Court’s role in preserving the U.S. Constitution and the balance of power it creates.

How Should We Choose People for Positions of Authority?

This lesson helps students to identify the requirements of a position of authority and the qualifications a person should possess to fill that position. Students learn a set of intellectual tools designed to help them both analyze the duties of the position and to decide if an individual is qualified to serve in that particular position. During the lesson students practice using the intellectual tools.

Michigan Court System

The lesson includes a read aloud book to teach students about the Michigan Court System.

We the Students: Writing a Class Constitution

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution sets out the purposes or functions of American government as envisioned by the framers. Using the Preamble as a guide, students will identify the purposes of their own classroom and create a class “constitution.”

A Visitor from Outer Space

Students learn about the Bill of Rights and the Importance of Rights

Colonial Influences

American colonists had some strong ideas about what they wanted in a government. These ideas surface in colonial documents, and eventually became a part of the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But where did they come from? This lesson looks at the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, English Bill of Rights, Cato’s Letters and Common Sense.

A Kid’s Guide to Running for President

Students will read about the election process and correctly put the steps in proper sequence. Students will participate in a debate on an issue that relates to their day-to-day school experience.

What Basic Ideas About Government Are included in the Preamble to the Constitution?

This lesson explores some ideas in the Preamble to the Constitution. Students learn that the power to govern belongs to the people who have created the government to protect their rights and promote their welfare.

Matching Game with the U.S. Constitution

By the end of this lesson, students will understand what the Constitution is and
what it does for them; recognize key images related to the
Constitution and its history.

Does the Constitution Protect Fair Play? Introducing Due Process

In this lesson, students develop a working understanding of due process by discussing relevant Constitutional clauses. They are presented with the Gideon v. Wainwright case and decide whether Clarence Gideon had the right to an attorney, relying on their previous discussion of due process. The lesson ends with a discussion of the importance of the right to due process in criminal proceedings, as well as a discussion of other situations in which the right to due process applies

The First Amendment: What’s Fair in a Free Country?

Lesson includes several activities to demonstrate to students that freedom of speech continues to evolve.

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