How to Teach Civics and Government to Elementary Students

Are you teaching a civics and government unit in your elementary classroom? This isn’t always the easiest subject for little ones, but today, I am going to talk about civics and government activities that can help your students understand how our country works!

Stock Your Class Library With Government Books to Explore

Books for teaching government in your elementary classroom

First, you will need a few books to keep on hand. These three books cover the topics of citizenship, the three branches of government, and the tasks of local, state, and national administrations! These books can be used as references, read alouds, partner texts, or in small group and center activities.

Start with the Basic Rights and Responsibilities

Anchor Chart for teaching civics and government in your elementary classroom

When teaching students about civics and government, students will need to learn their rights and responsibilities. So, you can begin with discussions of people’s 4 basic rights: the right to shelter, right to food, right to equality, and right to education. Using chart paper, record a heading at the top. Then, split the remainder of the paper into 4 equal spaces. Spend some time facilitating a discussion of what each right looks like/should look like. Students can turn and talk about what each means to them! If your students are ready, you can even discuss scenarios of what people can/should be able to do if they don’t have these things.

Anchor Chart for teaching civics and government in your elementary classroom

Next, we talk about responsibilities. Create a simple T-Chart. Facilitate a discussion about what is our responsibility as people in our community or school. Have students brainstorm answers and post them in the correct category. Then, discuss their responses and create a final list of responsibilities!

Teach Basic Government Facts and Benefits

Printable activities for teaching civics and government in your elementary classroom

Learning about how the government works can be tricky. So, using informational reading and writing activities will be essential! You will want to find informational texts or articles that cover basic government facts and benefits.

For example, have your students read and write about government services. Students can read about the government services that they interact with often. This will allow them to connect to the content and engage in the learning. In the activity above, students will read about government services like libraries, schools, parks, the postal service, etc.

Brain Pop Video for three branches of government in your elementary classroom

Additionally, you can use informational videos to provide details of specific government concepts. For example, this BrainPop video covers the three branches of government. With a focus on key terms and interactive activities that follow, this is a great addition to your civics government unit!

There are also loads of free videos on YouTube that cover different parts of government and civics! Kids Academy has a good video on the Three Branches, as well!

For video activities, I always like to include an element of writing to learn or writing to display learning. So, you can add interactive notebook pieces, graphic organizers, or note-taking pages to these civics and government activities!

Here’s a no-prep resource to help!

Printable Social Studies Activities, worksheets, reading and writing, elementary

If you’d like an easily implemented civics and government unit, this no-prep social studies resource is a perfect supplement to use for your lessons. It offers an introduction to civics and the United States government and then focuses on various aspects of the US government. There are reading comprehension passages, graphic organizers, and cut and glue activities. *Digital formats are even included for paper-free or virtual instruction!

Link: Civics & Government No-Prep Unit

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