The president of the United States is among the most powerful political figures in the world. In the international realm, the president speaks for the country and is the symbol of America. At home, the president suggests the policy agenda for Congress and is the leader of his or her political party. Americans look to the president for leadership, while at the same time fearing the concentration of political power in the executive branch. Each of these activities introduces students to the executive branch and explores the ways that checks and balances limit presidential power.
The state representatives debate the formal election of national senators. They decide whether senators should be elected by the House of Representatives, National Executives, The People, or State Legislators.
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn the peaceful transfer of power from one U.S. president to the next takes place during their inauguration ceremony. Nick walks us through traditions surrounding the big day, including the new president's address and ball.
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn the Electoral College is the process by which we elect the President of the United States. When a voter casts his/her vote for President, they’re not actually voting for them directly. Instead, they are telling the state which party’s designees should serve as the state’s electors.
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The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Nebraska has a different approach. There are only 2 states that can split votes based on congressional districts (Nebraska has 5 electors). This creates multiple popular vote contests in these states, which could lead to a split electoral vote. In the past two decades, Nebraska has split the vote twice; 2008 and 2020.
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn how a bill becomes a law. It’s tough! First, there is an idea. Someone in Congress writes it up as a bill and introduces it. But, most bills don't stop right there. A Bill becomes a law if the bill has passed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and has then approved by the President, or if a presidential veto has been overridden, the bill becomes a law and is enforced by the government.
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn once every 10 years, the government sends workers all over the country to knock on our doors for the U.S. Census mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support to local communities. Census data provides billions of dollars in federal funding that goes to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other essential services.
The census also determines the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and is used to draw congressional and state legislative districts
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn about the constitution. To protect the rights of the people—the Constitution says it takes three parts of the government to make or change a law or make other important decisions. This separation of powers is the process by which states govern. The state's government is divided into branches, each with separate, independent powers and responsibilities so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with other branches. They serve as checks and balances to each other.
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn the US Constitution has a Bill of Rights that was created to provide protection for individual freedoms. It starts with the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects five freedoms: speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. Together, these five guaranteed freedoms make the people of the United States of America the freest in the world.
The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In this video from PBSLearningMedia, students learn the constitution’s Second Amendment says that individuals do have the right to keep and bear arms, for the purpose of personal defense in the home. "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
The Second Amendment was part of the Bill of Rights that was added to the Constitution on December 15, 1791.
In this interactive game from iCivics, students will learn about all three branches of government by controlling them in this game. They will have the power to write any laws they want about the issues they choose. If they can keep their government working for thirty minutes to complete the game, they win! This game can be played while teaching about the three branches of government or after as an assessment.
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This is an interactive game from iCivics. The game is set in 1787, where the ink is still drying on the new Constitution. Will it become the law of the land or will it fall into the dustbin of history? The fate of the young nation is in their hands! Use this game to teach the big ideas at the core of the ratification debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Students will identify the main stances of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists between 1787 and 1789, understand the key debates surrounding the ratification of the constitution, including an extended republic, the House of Representatives, the Senate, executive power, the judiciary, and a bill of rights. Students will interact with the ideas, perspectives, and arguments that defined the ratification debate. They will explore the many different viewpoints, which spanned geographic regions, populations, and socio-economic class. Students will identify the building blocks of the proposed Constitution. They will engage with competing ideas in order to form an effective and cohesive set of arguments for, or against, ratification within a state. This game can be used during a lesson on the constitution to reinforce concepts or after the lesson as an assessment. This game can be played in a whole group or individually.
This interactive game from iCivics will allow students to become experts in U.S. citizenship. Students will recognize and recall rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens, identify active ways in which citizens can participate in government and contribute to the common good, and relate like terms and concepts by deducing shared relationships. This game can be played during a lesson on citizenship for reinforcement or after a lesson as an assessment. It can be played in a whole group or individually.