Do you ever spend time trying to make Civics more enjoyable and engaging for middle schoolers or high schoolers? I know I do. Civics can easily be seen as a dry subject, but it doesn't have to be. One of my favorite activities in my 8th grade Civics class is the Legislative Branch Simulation: How A Bill Becomes A Law. I was introduced to this concept and activity years ago by a respected co-teacher. Throughout the years I have tweaked and added to this idea to make it suitable for my 8th grade classes.
What I love about this simulation is that it makes learning about the Legislative Branch very real, engaging, and even exciting. Students get to participate in writing bills for their school, community, or state while learning the various stages within the lawmaking process. In addition, all voices are heard and each student has a chance to contribute.
Every student gets to become a member of Congress, write their own bills, participate in committee discussions, debate on the house/senate floor, and eventually watch the President sign the bills that survive through the entire process. Not only will the students love this simulation, but they get a chance to change their school, and in the process, learn all the aspects of how a bill becomes a law.
This Legislative Branch Simulation has become one of the highlights of my civics class. Students love the opportunity to influence their school, community, or state through the bills they write. Each year, a small number of my students’ bills have actually changed school policy because our wonderful school administrators have actively joined in on the participation, making sure the doable bills actually happen! Over the years our 8th grade bills have improved our school in a variety of ways: installation of water fountains with bottle fillers, new locker room changes, school course offerings, and more.
Learning about the Legislative Branch and lawmaking process is good, but actively being engaged in the process is great! I know you will enjoy this hands-on simulation as you incorporate it within your Civics and Government classes. It has proven to be a fantastic way to experience the Legislative Branch coming to life! You’re going to love it, and your students will too! You can get the Legislative Branch Simulation here or by clicking the image below. Let me know how it goes! What other engaging activities and lessons have you incorporated into your civics classes? Comment below and while you're at it, subscribe to the Mister Harms email list for future posts and updates.