Government Lessons

Super Teacher Ideas Social Studies Activities: Government & Budgets
Activities & Lesson Ideas
Social Studies - Teaching Students About Government
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Super Teacher Ideas
State Government - Making a Budget
Submitted by Lauren in New York
Fourth Grade Teacher

We are doing a state government unit for New York state. At the same time we are learning decimals in math. I combined both disciplines and did a unit on budgets.

We first discussed what a budget is and reviewed material already learned about the governor and state legislature's role in proposing and reviewing the budget. The students then brainstormed what other things might have budget besides state government. They came up with wonderful answers such as baseball teams, hospitals, families, schools. I then gave them three budget related challenges. The first was to see if a fake N.Y. budget was balanced. They needed to total the revenue side ( Example: 3.4 million in income taxes, .6 million in fines, 24.5 in fees etc. )and the spending side (Example: 5.4 million on education, .05 million on transportation etc. )

The next step was comparing both numbers and deciding if the budget was balanced or if there was a deficit. When they realized it was not balanced they needed to do more math to figure out how much a deficit there was. Finally they needed to use their critical thinking skills to choose an item from the spending side to cut in order to balance the budget and explain why they would cut that item.

Challenge 2: Make your own school budget. The students worked in pairs or threes to devise their own budget for our school. They came up with creative ways the school might earn money and listed the many items the school should spend money on. Next they assigned each item a dollar amount (no decimals this time) so that their school budget would be balanced.

Challenge three: extra credit. As an enrichment activity for my highest achievers I asked the boys to make circle graphs illustrating the distribution of the fake N.Y. state budget from challenge one.

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