One of the first topics we discuss in my American Government classes is “what is government and why do we need it?” Answers range from “government protects us” to “government takes away our freedoms!” to “government is stupid!” In order to have a better understanding of the role of government and the responsibilities that rest upon its shoulders, I assign one of my favorite activities: Create Your Own Government project. Here’s how it works:
Students are told that they are among a small group of Americans who have survived an alien invasion. After expelling the aliens from what is left of the United States, the country turns to these students in hopes that they can establish a functioning government … no pressure, right?
Working in small groups, students roll the dice and are assigned a type of government based on their role. No, I’m not promoting gambling in my classroom … rolling the dice is symbolic … we really don’t know what would happen in this situation, and what type of government we would wind up with!
Next, students are tasked with addressing the following issues:
->Establishing a National Education System
Then, the fun begins!
I encourage students to be creative with this project. This is THEIR government and it is up to THEM how to set it up.
This year, I switched up my project … I hate doing the exact same activity year after year because it makes the content stale for me. If I let it become stale for me, that feeling most likely makes its way into my instruction. Yuck! What did I add? A gamified element!
After explaining the parameters of the project to my students, I offered “bonus missions” that would be helpful to the citizens of what was left of the United States.
Students were told that the morale of the citizens of what was left of the United States was at an all-time low. In order to encourage national pride and unity, students could create a national anthem to present to the class in the form of a poem, song, rap, or snazzy saying.
As students of history, we know that sometimes, the first attempt at creating a government just does not work. Hello, there Articles of Confederation! For the second bonus mission, students were required to create a paragraph description of what would happen if their newly formed government failed. Students were to choose an alternate form of government, and briefly describe the “ins and outs” of the new system they would implement.
These projects were fantastic!
I love when activities encourage students to unleash some creativity while at the same time applying content knowledge.
It makes my teacher-heart smile 🙂
If you’d like to use this activity in your classes, please check out this Google Doc!
Stay tuned for my post-election activity!
Thanks for reading 🙂
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