Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Teaching Government in the Primary Grades

Teaching Government in the Primary Grades

I am super excited to be a part of the Trade and Grade Blog Hop again this month! It is so much fun to get to try these new products with my students. And this month- I hit the jackpot FOR SURE. I was paired up with Arisbeth Rossi of Sailing into Second. I may have squealed when I saw that she had sent me her 3 Branches of Government Unit!

I have a degree in American Political Studies. I have worked in all three branches of the Arizona state government. It was after I had kids that I decided to go back to school to teach. I got my certificate in Secondary Education and did my student teaching in a 12th grade American Government class. I LOVED the content area. Talking about government all day was perfect for me. However, I wasn't so sure about the kids. I had small kids at home and listening to the language and attitude of teenagers, scared me a wee bit. And that is how I ended up changing directions and teaching the third grade. But, I didn't give up teaching government! Primary grade students can and SHOULD learn about their government! You are training future voters and tax payers. I want to teach my students to be informed. I think that many teachers shy away from teaching government because they fear it will become political and parents will be offended. I have found that as long as I teach the facts and stay away from opinions, parents are thrilled that I have their kids so excited about the constitution, branches of government and voting. I have been thanked several times! 

So now you know why I was so excited about Arisbeth's unit! It is perfect for my classroom! My very favorite part of the unit are the informational text passages about each of the branches of government. My students are always working to become better close readers. We focused on one branch each day. First, in guided reading groups, they would close read the passage.

I LOVE that we are at the point in our year that my on-level and enrich reading groups are able to close  read the text, discuss the text with a partner, fill out a graphic organizer and answer text dependent questions without much of any help from me! It was challenging to just sit and listen to them discuss government without adding my two sense! I bit my tongue because they were having such thoughtful conversation that was spurred by these amazing passages. They felt so smart talking about such BIG concepts!

Later, during our Social Studies time, we worked on a wonderful inquiry chart that Arisbeth writes about in her unit. Now, I have already admitted that I am terrible at drawing on anchor charts so I opted for printing out pictures rather than drawing. We added a branch each day and I was very impressed with how much my students remembered from the passages they read that morning.

As we were adding branches to the chart, I had my started add notes in this flip flap book from the unit. I am a sucker for a flip flap book! Since they were being asked to take notes while we were adding to the chart, I was able to keep all of them focused and on task.

My students' favorite activity was the vocabulary match-up. I used it as a game of memory at the end of the week. It was a fun and hands-on way to reenforce some of the new vocabulary we had learned during the week. All of the words were also added to their personal dictionaries and may be chosen as spelling words.

There are lots of other great printables and writing papers in the unit, but we ran out of time since we only had a 4-day week due to Easter. I will put some of these printables into centers during the last month of school.

Arisbeth's unit was simple to implement in my classroom and did not involve a ton of prep work. My kids were engaged, reading, writing and learning new vocabulary. I give this unit an A+!!! Would you like to try a sample of the unit for FREE?! Arisbeth has generously donated a sample from the unit that you can download HERE

Also, make sure you sign up for a chance to win lots of great products! Then hop on over to Arisbeth's blog to see how she used my Grilling Up Math Fun in her classroom!

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  1. You are so sweet to say all those kind things about my unit! I am SO glad we got paired up!! :) Thanks a billion, Jaime!!


  2. This is awesome! I have never heard of a trade & grade. What a great idea! I would love to participate in the future! I teach fourth grade, so that would add an upper grade to the mix. Thanks! :)




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