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Elementary Lessons

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A Visitor from Outer Space
 (Grades K-5)

In this lesson, students decide which of the rights included in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights they value the most. First, students are presented with a story about an extraterrestrial creature that takes over the world. The creature will allow humans to keep five rights. Students work in small groups to decide which five rights they would keep in this situation.


No Vehicles in the Park (Grades K-5)

In this lesson, students learn what makes a good rule. First, they evaluate a rule to see if it is clear, fair, and enforceable. Then they read about a fictional rule banning vehicles from a town's park and decide what exceptions they think should be made to the rule. Finally, working in small groups, students amend the rule based on what they feel is clear, fair, and enforceable.


What Is Your Best Freedom? (Grades K-6)

Students make a poster illustrating their “best freedom.” In preparation, students discuss the freedoms they have as Americans and at school.


In 2014, the California legislature passed legislation which called for teaching about President Obama’s historic election and its significance for California’s students. In collaboration with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, we developed lessons to help teachers teach about the significance of the election of Barack Obama.

Barack Obama: The United States of America’s First Black President (K-2)

In this lesson, students learn about President Obama’s life, family, and political career as they interact with a slide presentation. 

Stepping Stones to the White House: Visual Artifacts from the Life and Presidency of Barack Obama(Grades 3 - 5)

In this lesson, students use an interactive timeline to put major events in the life and presidency of President Obama in order. 


Mr. Madison Needs Some Help
(Grades 3-5)

Here are three lessons to choose from or implement as a unit. The first lesson provides background on the Constitution, the second engages students in helping James Madison develop a Bill of Rights, and the third focuses on the First Amendment. (From Adventures in Law and History, Vol. II)


The Tired King (Grades 3-5)

In this lesson, students are introduced to the three functions of government (legislative, judicial, and executive) through a story about an overworked king who must handle all the tasks of government. Next, students are given descriptions of the three functions of government and asked to match tasks to departments (lawmakers, executives, and judges).


Wolf v. California: A Moot Courtimage 2023 11 09 132945384 (Grades 3-5)

In this moot court activity, based on the story of the Three Little Pigs, the wolf is appealing his conviction for manslaughter of Little Pig Two. Students will read a news article explaining why Mr. Wolf is appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Next, working in groups, students will act as attorneys and justices to prepare for a mock Supreme Court case. Finally, students will act out a Supreme Court oral argument, with attorneys for each side arguing their case and the justices making a ruling.


The River (Grades 3-6)

This two-part lesson demonstrates natural and human impact on the environment by examining changes in a hypothetical river system over time. In part one, students worked in groups to solve a hypothetical problem about a river during one of these eras. In part two, students will present their problems and solutions in chronological order, thus revealing a story of one river over time. Finally, students will discuss issues around water pollution in their own community and consider possible ways of addressing pollution problems. Ideas for service projects are also included.


Trouble in Gold Flats (Grade 4)

In a series of five lessons, students visit the fictional gold-mining camp of Gold Flats during the California Gold Rush. In each lesson, they learn about the need for fair and enforceable laws and the basic structures of government. This curriculum can be used as a unit or as stand-alone lessons.


Agatha Dredd (Grade 5)

In a series of five lessons, students follow three fifth grade students who have been magically transported to a fictional New England colony in the late 1600s. In each lesson, they learn about the right to due process. This curriculum can be used as a unit or as stand-alone lesson.

 

 

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