• CC Basics Social Studies, pages 18 - 25



  • Identify and compare types of modern and historical governments

  • Explain how types of government are related

  • Explain how governments develop

Key Concept

  • Within a state, a country, or a region, the government is made up of a group of people responsible for the direction and supervision of public affairs.


Tier 2 absolute
Tier 3 amendments
Test Words analyze

Evidence-Based Reading

  • Word Origins: Draw students’ attention to the word democracy. Ask them what the word means to them. Invite a volunteer to conduct a quick Internet search to find out the etymology, or origin, of the word. (It comes from Greek words that mean rule of the people.) Explain to students that understanding such word origins can help them make sense of unfamiliar terms. Invite small groups to conduct similar searches for other lesson words, like government, monarchy, dictatorship, representative, and constitutional.

21st Century Skill

  • Critical Thinking: To help students analyze the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, provide them with these synonyms for the more unfamiliar words in the texts: inherent (built in); compact (agreement); deprive (keep from); divest (take away); vested in (held by); unalienable (absolute; unable to take away). Ask students to explain the main idea of each document excerpt. (Virginia Declaration: All people are free and have natural rights; government gets authority from the people. Declaration of Independence: All people are equal and have natural rights; government should get its power from the people, or it should be overthrown.)

Real World Connection

  • Apply Knowledge: To build background knowledge, tell students that the United States government was designed with a system of checks and balances. Each branch can check, or stop, the other two branches in some way. This helps balance power among the three branches of government. One of these checks enables Congress (the legislative branch) to pass a law without the approval of the president (executive branch). However, in order to do so, two-thirds of Congress must vote for the law.

Writing Topic

  • Explain, from the point of view of a colonist, would a Constitutional Monarchy or Representative Democracy a better suite a new nation?

  • Describe the similarities between the Virginia declaration of rights and the US Declaration of independence.

  • Identify the relationships between the Magna Carta and US Bill of Rights.

  • Describe the similarities between the Iroquois’ Great Binding Law and the US government, today.

  • Explain, from the point of view of a colonist, how Monarchies influenced the US government.

Writing Practice

  • Tell students that when they write from another person’s point of view, they are writing as if they were that person. Students should imagine they are that individual and be sure to write in the first person.

Before Lesson

Ask students: What does a government do? (makes laws, manages social programs, runs a country) Explain that governments are responsible for maintaining order and protecting citizens. Ask students which type of government the United States has (representative democracy) and if they know of any other types of governments. (monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, communist state, socialist state, democracy, republic) Tell students they will learn more about all of these types of governments.


Write the word government on the board in the center of a concept web and invite students to identify associations, experiences, or feelings they have about government. Write student responses in the outer circles of the concept web and ask students to keep these responses in mind as they learn more about governments. Challenge students to identify how the government is affecting their lives at this moment

Guided Practice

  • Identify Types of Government
    • Monarchies
    • Democracies
    • Dictatorships
  • Reading Primary Documents
  • The Magna Carta and The US Constitution

Core Skill

Analyze Ideas: Make a two-column chart for monarchy and democracy on the board. Reread page 18 with students and have them add characteristics of monarchies and democracies under the appropriate heading. Before students start working on their own, discuss with them the differences between the two forms of government.

Analyze Ideas: Tell students that Magna Carta means great charter. A charter is an agreement or contract. Explain that the Magna Carta was an agreement between the king and the people granting the people more protection and power. Ask students how they think their lives would be different if their government did not grant citizens’ rights or protection. Tell students that the Magna Carta contributed to the rights they have today.

Make Inferences: Model making an inference equation on the board based on the Magna Carta passage. Example: The US Constitution protects the rights of Americans + the Magna Carta protected the rights of people in Britain in the 1200s = Different forms of government can help establish people’s rights through written documents. Remind students that making inferences means combining what you know (US Constitution) with what you read (Magna Carta). Have them follow this process as they make inferences about the Iroquois Great Binding Law and the US Constitution.


Translate Terms: Review the vocabulary words with students. For each word, assist students in translating it into their first languages. Once they are comfortable with the words, have pairs of students work together to make word flash cards with the English word on the front and the translated word on the back.

Investigate and Draw: Conclusions Have small groups of students work together to find examples of how the US Constitution affects citizens today-for example, its effect on voting, gun ownership, free speech, or freedom of religion. Students should investigate several online sources and draw conclusions from them to present to the class.

Lesson Review