Finding Facts about Local Government

Social Studies

Children find out about their local community government by analyzing a news story.

Most local newspapers have articles about town or city government decisions or actions. You may want to plan this activity around a Language Arts unit about writing news stories so that children have familiarity with the parts of a newspaper story. Explain to children that news stories are filled with facts. A fact is something that is stated that is true and can be proven. You may want to state a few facts as examples: Our state is ______; The name of our school is_________; The President of the United States is _______; etc.

What You Need

  • copies of a news story about the actions of your local government
  • chart paper
  • marker

What to Do

  1. Pass out copies of the news article. Read the article aloud or have volunteers take turns reading it.

  2. Tell children that you will read it again, but this time, you want children to raise their hands when they think they hear a fact about local govenment.

  3. Write each fact the children find on chart paper.

  4. Then have children recall the form of government in your city or town. Review the organization of Town Manager -- City Council or Mayor -- City Council and ask children who the leaders are and how decisions are made. (The leader is the town manager or mayor. City Council or Boards of Selectmen vote to make decisions about town issues. Town governments have leaders of departments such as School Department, Parks and Recreation, Roads, and Police Departments.)

  5. Read aloud each fact that you wrote on chart paper, checking that each is a fact. Then ask children to name the person or the group from the local government who is connected to each fact. Write the name next to the fact. For example, if the fact is: The vote passed 6 to 3, children would write City Council next to the fact because the City Council voted on some issue.

Teaching Options

  • Children could work independently underlining the facts in the news story and listing the parts of government connected to each fact.

  • Ask a local government official to come to your class and discuss the article and his or her part in the local government. Have children prepare written questions to ask the person about his or her role. After the visit, children can write thank-you notes to the person, thanking him or her for coming.

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