Lately, I’ve been wanting to learn more about how our American government works, so immediately my Homeschool Mom status comes out full force and I must plan an American government unit study for my kids.
But you can’t just start with the three branches of government. You have to back up to the founding of our nation and what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they declared independence from Britain and drafted the Constitution. I really want the context and the content.
I planned an American Government unit study keeping in mind the amount of time I wanted it to take, the ages of my kids, and involving all five senses: reading great books, making recipes, hands-on projects, and music + movies.
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In this post, I’ve laid out two things: exactly how I plan our unit studies and what we’re using for this government unit–and I’m so excited about!
How To Plan A Government Unit Study (or any unit study!)
Setting up a unit study really it comes down to just a few simple steps.
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- Set your timeline
- Gather resources
- Divide the resources into the timeline…and go!
Let’s break it down a little bit…
Start with a Timeline
This helps so much because otherwise, a study could just go on and on and fall off the rails. Or putter out with no clear direction.
Usually, I will check our calendar and see how much time we have to finish a study. Sometimes I’ll have multiple unit studies I will want to accomplish in one year, so I will lay out the different topics and divide them up over the year.
For example, last year I had planned on going through the Ancient Civilizations last year, but I didn’t plan super well and with all the craziness of last spring, we didn’t finish.
This year, I want to pick up where we left off in our Ancient study. BUT we also have a big presidential election going on, so I wanted to take advantage of this time to learn more about American government and our history.
That said, this year our timeline looks like this:
Fall Semester (Sept-Dec): Early American History + Government (14 weeks)
Spring Semester (Jan-May): Ancient Greece + Mythology + Ancient Rome (10 weeks)
Gather Your Resources + Include All Your Senses
Chances are, you already have a ton of resources on your topic. After you’ve set your timeline, gather up your things! This is the fun part. When you see what you already have, often you don’t need to purchase much for your study. Or at least, you see what you have before you buy more stuff!
I will list the resources we’re using for our American Government study below.
One thing I make sure of is, are my resources touching on each of the five senses?
Find things that your kids can touch: hands-on projects, maybe even costumes, or games.
See: art from the time period, books with great illustrations, movies and documentaries.
Hear: read aloud books, audiobooks, music.
Taste: food from the location or recipes from the time period.
and Smell, which ties in nicely with recipes you might make!
Input Your Resources into Your Timeline
For me, this is the most time consuming part. But I know I have to do it anyway, because I get into trouble when I have a huge stack of awesome books and no plan on how I’m going to get them all read.
Dividing the chapters of the books up, I will space them out over the course of my timeline. For shorter picture books, I just add them in where it makes sense with what we’re reading in our longer books.
Sometimes I start by writing out the lesson plans week by week, but a lot of times that gets super messy. Then I’ll just take my notes and type it out. As we go through the study, I highlight what we’ve finished.
Resources for an Awesome Government Unit Study
There are so many resources out there to create your own awesome government unit study. Here are the resources we are using:
Hands-On Projects + Games:
- Professor Noggin: History of the United States
- Professor Noggin: Presidents
- American Girl Cookbook: Felicity
- Professor Noggin: American Revolution
- Election Night Game (we don’t have this yet but it’s on my wish list!!)
- Election Study Lapbook by Homeschool in the Woods (We actually started this last year–we LOVE Homeschool in the Woods studies!)
- American Revolution Paper Dolls
- Timeline Game: American History
Books + Read Aloud Books:
For the spine of our study, we are using the Beautiful Feet Book packs. Since they cover a whole year of early American history, I am just covering a chunk of the content. We’re using this as the guide and adding in other things based on the books we’re reading with BFB.
- Beautiful Feet Books: Early American Intermediate Pack
- Beautiful Feet Books: Early American + World History Jr. High Pack
- Our Constitution Rocks!
This baggie holds all the pieces to our Election study by Homeschool in the Woods. Each lesson includes a piece to the lapbook they will assemble at the end of the study. My kids love these lapbooks!
Books We’re Reading: American Government Unit Study
Here are the books we’re reading with the BFB portion of our study:
- D’Aulaire’s Benjamin Franklin
- A More Perfect Union by Giulio and Betsy Maestro
- D’Aulaire’s George Washington
- Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation by George Washington
- Winter at Valley Forge by James E. Knight
- George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz
- The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
- The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds
- George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster
- The Great Little Madison
Then, we’re adding in these books + picture books I had on our shelves:
- The Interactive Constitution (Just got this one and it is SO COOL!!)
- Our Constitution Rocks!
- General George the Great
- The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
- George vs. George
- John, Paul, George, and Ben
My 7th grader is doing some individual reading too:
- What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
- Ben + Me
- The Winter of the Red Snow
- Shhh! We’re Writing the Constitution
- Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?
My 9th grader is also studying American Government and using THIS curriculum.
If You Like Unit Studies, You Might Like:
- How to Plan a Simple Bee Unit Study for Your Kids
- See the World: Create a World Culture Unit Study
- Winter Unit Study Idea: Tapping Maple Trees
- How to Plan a Simple Unit Study with Homeschool in the Woods
- Vikings Unit Study
- Ancient Greece Unit Study
- Early 20th Century Unit Study
- How to Find History Resources that will Help You Have Awesome Unit Studies
- Colonial Life Unit Study