History in the Making
Students will visit Colonial America in the Time Machine and discover the process that a citizen today must follow in order to make or change a law.
After visiting the Colonial Era (1667) in the Time Machine as a class, have students summarize what they learned about coinage during Colonial times. Remind students that the colonists felt that the king's laws against running a mint in the new colonies were unfair. Their way around this law was to trick the British royals (and soldiers) by producing the backdated Pine Tree shilling.
Explain to students that today, because we live in a democracy, Americans have different options if they want to create or change a law. What are the steps one would have to follow to change or create a local law? State law? Federal law?
Have students do research, using a variety of informational resources, on the steps a citizen would need to take in order to create and/or change a local, state, or federal law. Then, students should create a flow chart (or other visual representation of their choice) of this process. Have students find an example of a law that was changed/written thanks to an ordinary citizen and summarize it beneath their flow chart (citing a bibliographical source).
Now that students understand how laws are made, what about coins? What is the process that a citizen must follow in order to get a coin minted?
Recommended Internet resources for students to use in their research:
- Ben's Guide to U.S. Government Web site
- Office of the Clerk's Web site
Explore additional government concepts like federalism and division of power with your students in the "Who Has the Power?" lesson plan.
The project described above reflects some of the national standards of learning as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Society for Technology in Education. These standards are listed below:
Language Arts Standards
Gather and use information for research purposes: Students will use various resources to research the law making process.
Social Studies Standards
Civic Ideals and Practices: Students will research the role American citizens have in defining and changing laws.
Power, Authority, and Governance: Students will visually organize the process by which laws are made.