All Hands on Deck: Learning Adventures Aboard Old Ironsides
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USS Constitution, Johnson

Let’s Decide — a role-playing activity

To give the class a sense of what it was like for the new United States to create a government, you might engage students in a role playing exercise. Present your class with a choice of three or four activities that students might like to do, from learning about something interesting, to taking a field trip to the beach or other fun activity. After students choose, divide them into separate groups according to their activity of choice. Now, tell them that the whole class must agree on only one activity. But how can all groups agree on one activity when each group wants to do something different? Explain that America had the same problem. When the United States first formed, the 13 states needed to find a way to reach agreement. What did America do? In 1787 the states agreed to a “plan” called the Constitution of the United States, which became the highest law of the land. The Constitution described a Congress and a President who would make decisions. Tell students that the new United States gave its citizens more say than other nations. According to the Constitution of the United States, the President and the Congress serve the people.

If the class were to use the same “plan” America used, instead of each student making a separate choice, each group of students would appoint a representative. The representatives would then meet, weigh all the choices, and vote. If your students were not happy with the decisions of their representatives, they would vote for someone else in the next election.

Besides needing to find a way to reach agreement on which activity to do, what else would your class need in order to do the activity they finally choose. Money! Where did young America get the money it needed to do what it wanted to do? In 1791, citizens loaned money to start the U. S. Bank.

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