ALEX Lesson Plan


That's Not Fair! There Should Be a Law Against That! Discovering How a Bill Becomes a Law

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Charissa Smith
System: Alabama Department of Education
School: Alabama Department of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33924


That's Not Fair! There Should Be a Law Against That! Discovering How a Bill Becomes a Law


Students will choose a topic that they think should be a law.  As a class, they will re-enact the steps necessary to make a new law.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 3
Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
10 ) Recognize functions of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

•  Describing the process by which a bill becomes law
•  Explaining the relationship between the federal government and state governments, including the three branches of government (Alabama)
•  Defining governmental systems, including democracy, monarchy, and dictatorship
Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, Geography, History
Course Title: Living and Working Together in State and Nation
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Identify ways people are affected by their human and physical environments and provide examples of each.
  • Compare physical features of regions throughout the United States.
  • Identify positive and negative ways people affect the environment, including the benefits of recreation and tourism at state and national parks.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • identify
  • human environment
  • physical environment
  • compare
  • physical features
  • regions of the United States
  • recognize benefits
  • recreation
  • tourism
  • state parks
  • national parks
Students know:
  • Difference between human and physical environments the physical regions of the United States and the features of each.
  • Affects of environment on human behavior and ways of life.
  • Positive and negative affects of humans on the environment.
  • Examples of types of tourism and recreation and the affects of each, including state and national parks.
Students are able to:
  • List examples of the ways human and physical environments affect people and the ways they live.
  • Differentiate between regions of the United States based upon their physical features.
  • Differentiate between positive and negative effects that people have on the environment.
  • Explain the benefits of recreation and tourism, including at state and national parks.
Students understand that:
  • There are various ways that people are affected by their human and physical environments, as well as the effects, both positive and negative, that humans have on the environment.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.3.10- Demonstrate an understanding that families, schools, organizations, and governments have certain structures and rules; identify the Constitution of the United States as a set of rules for the country.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

I can describe the process by which a bill becomes a law.

I can support my opinion with evidence and argue my point with logical support.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Time Not Specified

Materials and Resources:

Technology Resources Needed:

Google Forms Access (Optional)

Internet Enabled Device and Projector

Document Camera (Optional)


The teacher should have an understanding of how to use Google Forms and access the data collected. (optional)

The teacher should have an understanding of how a bill is passed.



The teacher can engage the students by asking them if they have ever heard or said, "That's not fair!" The teacher can allow the students to turn and talk about when they said or heard this statement. Allow a few groups to share their thoughts.  The teacher can then lead the class in an open discussion of what rules are and why we have them. Lead the students to the fact that laws are rules that have been decided on for everyone.  These rules have to go through a specific process before they can be a law. Once passed, these laws apply to everyone in a country.


Divide the students into 4 groups. One way to do this would be to allow students to work in table groups. Give each group a piece of paper. Tell the students that they are going to take 1-2 minutes to write down all the things for which they think there should be a rule or law.  Remind students that they are graffiti writing and it's okay to use phrases and not complete sentences as well as if they write upside down from their neighbor. Set a timer to keep students on track. As students are working, walk around the room to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and ideas. Remind students that there are no bad ideas.  This is a time to reflect and dump all the ideas out of their brains.

After students write down their ideas, have each group choose one idea that is their favorite.  Allow time for each group to write a list of at least 3 reasons they think their choice should be a law.

Write the idea from each group on the board and number them.  Ask students to vote on the choice they think would make a good new law.  The vote can be done by students raising their hand, raising the number of fingers of their choice, on paper, or using a Google Form.

Remind students that the law would affect everyone so choose carefully and be sure that they can explain why they think it should be a law.

Once the students have voted on a choice to use, tell them they are going to watch a video about what happens when someone thinks something should become a law.  The process goes through the legislative branch of the government.  This choice is written down and called a bill.  The teacher will write the class's choice down on a paper or type it on the computer and project it.

The video we are going to watch will explain what happens once the bill is written down. Schoolhouse Rock I'm Just a Bill. Watch the video 2 or 3 times. Have students fill in the Video Graphic Organizer (or take notes on their paper) while watching the video (2nd and 3rd viewing).

Divide the class into 2 groups. One group will be the House and one group will be the Senate. Give each group time to discuss if they think the bill should become a law. After students have had time to discuss, have students write a paragraph arguing for or against the bill. They must include 2 or more reasons. The teacher can use the hamburger paragraph rubric to assess writing. This can be posted in the classroom for students to refer to throughout the year as they write.


After the students have had time to write about their choice, give students the opportunity to vote by placing a mark on the Voting Board. The Voting Board Template can be displayed on an Interactive White Board or document camera.

Tally the votes from both the "House" and the "Senate".  If the law passes, then ask students where the law will go next.  Tell students that the law will go to the President and he can either sign it (it becomes a law) or veto it (and it is not a law and the process will begin all over again).

When the activity is finished, have students complete an exit slip answering 4 questions on their own paper or in a shared Google Doc file:

  1. How does an idea become a bill?
  2. Describe the steps of a bill becoming a law.  Assume that it passes at each stage.
  3. What are 2 reasons a bill would not become a law?
  4. What happens to a bill if it does not become a law?

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Assessment Strategies

The teacher can use formative assessment throughout the lesson by observing the students as they work in groups.  The teacher can use the hamburger paragraph rubric to assess their writing skills and abilities. 

The teacher can assess the student's understanding of how a bill becomes a law by their answers on the exit slip.


Students who are understanding the topic well can write a second paragraph about their stance on the bill.  They can tell why someone would agree or disagree with them.

Students can also visit iCivics to complete a fun activity testing their knowledge of how a bill becomes a law.

Students could choose another idea they believe should become a law and write a letter to their Congressman or Congresswoman asking them to introduce a bill.


Students who are struggling can be given peer tutoring and help.

They can be allowed to write their reasons in sentences rather than a paragraph.

These students can be allowed to draw the process of a bill becoming a law instead of answering the exit slip questions.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.