Thursday, February 9, 2012


As homeschoolers in PA, we are required to teach specific subjects every year. The list includes English, arithmetic, science, geography, history of United States and Pennsylvania, civics, safety education, health, physical education, music and art. Some of these subjects are covered daily in our classroom. English, math, science and history are consistently covered throughout the school year. Physical education, art, music and geography make an appearance about once per week, sometimes more often. I am covering the remaining subjects; health, safety education and civics, in smaller units. Health and civics each get five weeks of study, safety education was a three day fire safety day-camp in late summer, plus a few activities the rest of the year.

Last year I struggled to put together an organized study of civics for the boys. I had it on our calendar as a once a week item, but always seemed to push it aside to finish other things. So this year I decided I had to get serious and PLAN something in order to really pull it off. I decided we would spend three days a week for five weeks on topics related to citizenship and government. Here is what I ended up throwing together.

~Week One
Discuss what rules and laws are and how they affect both our nation and all organizations
Activity: imagine you are the leader of a country and must write up your own laws, create
five laws for your citizens.
How can people change laws if they are unfair? Read about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the
civil rights movement. Discuss non-violent protests and how they can change laws.
History of the Star Spangled Banner. Read The Star Spangled Banner in Translation

~Week Two
Read about the establishment of the US government and the Constitution. Watch BrainPOP
videos on the branches of government and Bill of Rights. Do activity sheets for each.
Begin reading The Voice of the People
Review vocabulary related to these subjects; amendment, allegiance, independence.

~Week Three
Activity sheets (from old Calvert material) on citizenship, leadership and authority.
JT only, choose one leader we read about and write a paragraph about him or her.
Read fact book on presidents.

~Week Four
Discuss civic duties.
Make a list of the ways we can help our community.
Discuss American symbols; flag, bald eagle, seal, etc.
Discuss American foods and their true origins.

~Week Five
Learn about national landmarks.
Choose one landmark to research further.
Review the roles of each branch of government.
Use online activities such as iCivics and quizzes on Sheppard Software websites.
Watch School House Rock videos related to government.

It has been a fun unit for us. Fifteen days isn't really enough time to cover the full scope of civics, but knowing that we will touch on a little every year, I assume we will eventually have a good grasp on the subject. This morning a member of the Gifted Homeschoolers' Forum posted this video her daughter had made about the Constitution for a class on government.

When the boys were watching it, JT said, "I like how she used the harmonies. Maybe she did that to show how the Constitution helps us live in harmony with one another."

I thought that was a nice final note for our study on citizenship.

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