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Government 101: Yes We Can!

Recycle some Christmas tree branches for the sake of teaching government

By chance, my government unit blends right into the real-world political scene as we welcome our 44th President, Barack Obama, through the Inauguration Ceremony on January 20th. Can you think of a better time to stop and talk about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Amendments, and the 3 Branches of Government? I can't, and I am happy these concepts fall under our fourth grade teaching standards. I'd like to share my lesson plans and direct resources being used to teach this unit.

*Pictured: A Christmas tree branch, a hook that screws into the branch, fishing line, index cards, and some leaves= "Branches" of Government project.

*Photo from Education World


We spent last week addressing the American Revolution and The Articles of Confederation. We relied on United Streaming and the textbook for many of the lessons, however, we will move to the web and projects for the upcoming two weeks. I am including a VERY rough draft for a two week government unit. The sites, printables, and resources mentioned in the plan follow below. I hope this helps any teachers that are planning on addressing these concepts shortly. I also hope it makes it different than the many sites that just list a ton of resource links. If you look at my plans, you can see how to fit it all in without feeling crazy.

My lesson plan/pacing guide:

Download two_week_government_unit.doc

Printable Resources:

Branches of Government mobile pattern print-outs

Branches of Government notes for students

Download branches_government_signs.doc (shown in the main photo)

Books/ Materials:


I will be using Scholastic's resource book, How a Bill Becomes a Law. It includes all the resources and printables needed to help guide your students through easy simulations. Assessments included.

Also planned~ We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution by David Catrow; How the U.S. Government Works by Syl Sobel; The Hatmaker's Sign by Candace Fleming; D is for Democracy by Ellisa Groden; various trade books on government read during guided reading sessions and advertised for the reading block.

Branches of Government Project: I will be using tree branches, fishing wire, index cards, a screw hook, and leaves (main photo). My student teacher will help get the materials put together to save on time.

Websites for Lessons:


An honestly good song/rap about the 44 President. Lyrics included. A great song and very catchy.


This site is well-known and used in elementary, and it's a great resource.


This site includes all the information you might be seeking about the Inauguration.


A video on American symbols made by a first grade class in Poway, California.

How laws are made

A virtual tour of the White House

Compare and contrast poetry that has been read at former Inaugurations. I like to make sure my students leave fourth grade knowing who Maya Angelou is. Here is an easy route. She has written a few children's books that are not widely known, which I am lucky to have. I also like to share my experience of listening to her speak in Knoxville, Tennessee. A truly phenomenal woman and speaker.

You can also download the song "It's a Brand New Day" and/or "Yes We Can" by will.i.am. "It's a Brand New Day" is a great song to play on a Monday morning and was written about the feelings the singer felt the morning after election results came in. "Yes We Can" takes parts of a well-known Obama speech and puts it into a song format. You can use this to prompt kids that they can learn the concepts and they can go on to do whatever they set their hearts on. Yes we can!   

Online Games/Computer Time (we have afternoon rotations):

Making a law interactive game (very cool)

From the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum: WhistleStop Interactive Branches of Government Game (One or two players).

Math Bonus:


A lesson plan from Education World that includes resources to create a Presidental graph based on entering Presidents' ages.

To learn more about our classroom, visit us at: http://www.bar.rcs.k12.tn.us/teachers/bunyia/bunyihome.html


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this is a great site for students to learn www.MathATube.com

Angela Bunyi


I receive blog comments via email, so I was able to read your question that route...on the blog it seems your font size is 6 or so. Hmmm...because of that, I am going to re-state your question to help anyone else that might have the same question.

Do I know of any websites that will be showing the Inauguration?

Yes. The site listed above- www.presidential-inauguration.com It includes former ones as well. I can't remember the exact time, but I think we are going to be able to watch it direct on TV that day.

Happy Sunday,


Lucinda Bohnas

Thanks for this post. I was just thinking about how I could include the upcoming inauguration in my classroom. I would like to watch it live with my students. Do you know of any webcast that will be showing the inauguartion?

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Angela's 4th Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.