Lesson Three: State Government

Focus Questions:

• How is state government important to people's everyday lives?

• How are national and state government alike?

• In what ways can citizens make laws directly?

Imbedded Information in the Student Lesson:

Three branches of state government; South Dakota laws start as bills; governor


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South Dakota Government Complete the Sentences

Classroom Activities:

     In an election year, have the students learn more about the candidates and issues. Review campaign literature, political advertisements or cartoons, and party platforms. Hold classroom debates with the students role-playing the candidates. On election day have the students vote by secret ballot and compare the results of the class to the outcome of the real election.

     Conduct a mock legislative session with the students responsible for writing the bills, debating, and amending them. Hold the legislature with either one house or two. Create political parties, elected leaders, and elect a president or speaker. Give the students some ideas about bills. Water, farming and ranching, and small-town issues would be good bill topics. During the state legislative session, you can get actual bills from newspapers, which usually print a bill digest, or from the legislature’s web site at legis.state.sd.us/index.aspx. To listen to actual legislative proceedings, visit sdpb.sd.gov/statehouse/index.asp. If possible, have a legislator as a guest speaker, either in person or using technology.

     As a class, write a state government or tribal official (Lesson 4) or a local legislator about an important topic, either expressing an opinion or asking for information. Help the students select a topic. You may wish to have each student write a letter and read it to the class. The class could determine which letter to send as a group. Use proper business format in the letter. Take a field trip to Pierre and visit the state capitol (605-773-3765) and the Cultural Heritage Center (605-773-3458). You should call ahead to reserve time for your group and to arrange a tour. As an alternative, you can take your students on a "virtual tour" of the state capitol at http://www.state.sd.us/boa/capitoltour/intro.htm.