September 22, 2004

USA government coop

Yesterday was our last week focusing on the USA in coop. I co-led the class and it went well. We started with a game where each child had to act like an animal while the others guessed. Then they placed a sticker on the right location where the animal lived on a map. To make the stickers I googled the animals and got a picture of each in the wild. I resized them and saved them on a single sheet which we printed on sticker paper.

After the animals we presented an overview of the government structure. As I talked about each branch of government the kids placed a sticker on a piece of paper they were using to make a diagram of the government structure. I used the very helpful information and diagram found on Ben's Guide to US government for kids. A great resource!

Then we read a book on Election Day which outlined voting, elections and ballots. Then we conducted our own election day. I showed them our homemade ballots (pictures and words) and explained how they would vote and that they could only make one choice on each ballot and each child would only get one vote. One by one the kids came into a separate room with me to fill in their secret ballots. They each got to choose between George W Bush and John F Kerry for president. They also got to chose their snack (graham crackers or pretzels) on a separate ballot. They placed their answers in a ballot box. After all voted I brought the box out and we counted the votes together. In case you are curious George Bush and graham crackers won.

While the kids ate their snack I clarified that we did not ACTUALLY elect the next president and explained how you needed to be 18 to vote. Then we talked about different types of voting that can occur in our country. We talked about how their personal vote was secret but sometimes it was not that way and sometimes you could try to influence one another. We told them they would have the opportunity to debate and then vote on an issue - where the next group field trip was.

They were excited to pick where their field trip was as the moms always decide. They could choose between the zoo and going on a hike to various parks - Ciaran wanted the hike - everyone else wanted the zoo - each child took a moment to speak and explain their reasons and Ciaran managed to change one person's mind. Each child received a piece of paper with their name on it and had to link it to a chain under the picture of their choice. The kids counted the chains to see which had more. The zoo won and the kids will get to go there next trip. Then we talked a bit about if the vote was fair and how it would look if just one person could vote as much as they wanted and how they could see each others votes. We tied this section up by explaining to them that they had just voted and done the things that the leaders of our government do every day.

We finished off with a President's craft from Enchanted Learning. We had done much of the background work so the kids just had to glue the leaves down. My coleader had set them all in number order with numbers written on the back of each leaf. Each leaf represented one president, showing their picture, name and the years they served. We gave each family several cutout apples that they can write some historical facts from the time periods and add to their tree as homework. As the kids finished they were read to from U.S. Presidents Feats & Foul-Ups which dedicates a page to each president with some nice facts and some funny information as well. We played some patriotic music in the background while they did their craft. Each child left with printouts of the animals we discussed, a picture of President Bush to color, an overview of the Branches of Government, a copy of the Preamble, Bill of Rights and outline of the Constitution - in addition to their craft (which listed each president and term), their diagram of the branches of government, their map with the animals and a copy of the ballot.

All in all it was a fun and informative class - the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves even on a subject that can sometimes be dry and tough to teach younger kids - government.


1 comment:

  1. Great post- once I realized you didn't write "coup", but "coop" ROFL!

    Ah, time for bed.

    So glad the day went well and that the kids had the opportunity to learn so much hands-on! Sounds like fun.