How a Bill Becomes a Law

How a Bill Becomes a Law
Grace Coolidge: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required:


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 6
Power, Authority, and Governance
NCTE Standard 8
Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize, and communicate knowledge.
NCSS Strand 3
People, Places, and Environments
NCSS Strand 1
Culture
NCSS Strand 10
Civic Ideals and Practices

Introduction:

Grace Coolidge was the first First Lady to get Congress to pass a bill to protect items in the White House.  With the passage of this bill, Grace Coolidge began to inventory White House items.  The Coolidges left the White House before she finished.  Lou Hoover took over where Grace Coolidge left off and completed the task. 

Objectives:

The objective of this lesson is for students to engage in the democratic process and to learn how a bill become a law.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and/or access to a public library.

Procedures:

Explain to students the steps for a bill to become a law or have them read about the process at Project Smart Vote or Kids in the House (web page of the House of Representatives).
 
Have each student write a bill that they would like to become a law for your classroom. For example, not shouting out answers when you ask the class a question.
 
Collect the bills and form committees that will review the list of bills to determine if they are to become law in your class (i.e. The Mutual Respect Committee, the Keep the Classroom Clean Committee, etc).  Share with students that the committees you are forming are similar to the standing committees of the House of Representatives that review bills related to the topic of their report.
 
Redistribute all the original lists made by students, but do not give any student the one he or she wrote.  Notify students that they are now the Bill Clerk and they must determine which committee in the class will review the bill before them.
 
Have each committee review the bills before them and determine which will go forward and which will be tabled.
 
Divide the class in half – one half represents the House the other represents the Senate.
 
Have the committee select a person to introduce the bill to the House.
 
Have the House debate each bill, make amendments, and vote.  When the House debates the Senate must not speak, but can listen.
 
Once the House is completed with their role, have the Senate debate, make amendments and vote on the bills previously passed by the House.
 
You may want to alternate the House and Senate membership to give all students the opportunity to experience each role.
 
As the teacher, you may assume the role of the President and veto any bills.

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson have students write an email or letter to their representative. 

Sources & Resources:

Websites:
 
How a Bill Becomes Law Schematic
 
Write a letter to a Representative
 
Social Studies for Kids: How a Bill Becomes a Law
 
School House Rock 
 

Books: 
  
   Donovan, Sandy.  Making Laws: A Look at How a Bill Becomes a Law (How Government Works).  Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group, 2003. 
  
   Feldman, Ruth Tenzer.  How Congress Works:  A Look at the Legislative Branch.  Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group, 2003. 
  
   Hamilton, John.  How a Bill Becomes a Law.  Edina: Abdo Publishing Company, 2004. 
  
   Kowalski, Kathiann M.  A Balancing Act: A Look at Checks and Balances. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group, 2003.  
 

Credits: This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University