Grassroots Activists and the Three Branches of Government

Brown, Elizabeth and Silvestri, Linda. “Grassroots Activists and the Three Branches of Government.” Social Studies and the Young Learner (2016): 13-18. NCSS, September/October 2014. Web.

The article “Grassroots Activists and the Three Branches of Government,” states that in order for elementary school students to understand how the three branches of government work, they need to be exposed to hands-on lessons in order to apply what they have learned in the classroom. For that to happen, the authors designed a five day, inquiry-based unit for 4th graders, and provided examples of each branch of government during the civil rights movement, so students could learn about the branches of government in a real, historical example. The five days of the unit are broken down to introducing the three branches of government (day 1), reading aloud and building a tree with branches (day 2), visiting learning centers (days 3 and 4), and putting foliage on the tree (day 5). Over the course of the unit, students visited different learning stations. The learning stations required students to gather information from reliable sources and use the evidence they found to explain how a person in history worked with government to end segregation. The research the students conducted over the course of the unit was used in a final project on the three branches of government. As a summative assessment, the students took the same quiz before and after the unit of study to show their growth. This unit allows students to learn about an important concept and then use that they learned to apply it to a real-life, hands-on example.


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