Years ago I create this unit for President's Day. I wanted to give my students some real "meat" during social studies. I was guilty of teaching social studies in a very shallow way. I wanted to help my students really understand what the president does. I wanted to up the rigor a bit too and make it cross-curricular. I recently gave this unit a little facelift (it was originally created in Word-EEK) and it's been a long time since I first blogged about it, so I thought it was time to show it again. My students loved this unit!
We start by filling out this anticipation guide before reading the book If I Were President.
After reading about this book, we fill out the right side of this page. As the unit progresses, we dive deeper into these questions.
To help students understand the duties of a president, use the following activities.
Balancing the Budget
This is a favorite from the unit. There are two different versions of this: a country version and a classroom version. In both, students are given money and must decide how much to give to each group. Then you can follow up with a writing activity where the students need to articulate why they chose certain groups over others. Opinion writing- Boom!
Appointing other Leaders
Next, students discuss what makes a good leader. There are several options for this activity. The goal is to get kids to think about how the president has to choose other important leaders for our country. The simplest option is to choose a person they know who they believe would make a good leader for their "cabinet" or for another leadership position in the country.
Another option is to use these character cards. You could use the character cards alone or match them with specific positions that the president appoints.
Signing or Vetoing Laws
Here, students learn that a president doesn't make the laws in our country. This is always eye-opening for kids because they see the president as the person who can do anything they want. With this activity, they learn that a president has a role to play in creating laws but cannot do it alone.
Students will make a "State of the Classroom" speech. A graphic organizer will help guide this speech.
This next activity serves two purposes: to show the president as a diplomat and to exercise their problem solving skills. :)
There are additional learning opportunities as well: