State and Local Governments
Students will explore the concept of federalism, from the powers held by the federal government to the powers reserved for the states. They will also learn about state government structures and functions, the state-level lawmaking process, and discover county, municipal, and tribal governments.
State government resources were created with support from the State Government Affairs Council. Local government resources were created with support from the National Association of Counties.
Students discover that states have their own governments and powers separate from the federal government. They learn what those powers are, how they’re different from the federal government’s powers, and that state governments also give power to smaller, local governments. Students critique a set of fictional state laws, create a story involving state powers, and look at some differences between state and local power.
What do state governments do? In this overview lesson, students learn about state government structure, functions, lawmaking, and relationship with local government.
Updated 11/19/14. If you used this lesson before that date, please take a look at the new version.
In this lesson, students discover the roles and responsibilities of a governor. Through a reading and board game, the class will identify the source of a governor's power, as well as how that power is best used in a variety of situations.
If you’ve seen one constitution, have you seen them all? Compare and contrast the provisions of the U.S. Constitution alongside the state constitutions of Florida and Virginia. Find common ways in which state constitutions differ from (and are similar to) the U.S. Constitution, and take a closer look at your own state constitution.
Students explore the many roles filled by their county government and the role of county governments in a federalist system. After a close examination of the county, students create their own fictional county! Students are familiarized with fun facts about county government and analyze the transition of county development through the lense of westward expansion.
This resource was created with support from the National Association of Counties.
You probably know you live in a county (or the equivalent of a county), but do you know what county governments do? Find in this webquest!
States have their own governments, but what powers do they have, and where does that power come from? In this lesson, students will explore the nature of state power as pre-existing the Constitution, as well as the limits states imposed on themselves when they created the Constitution. They’ll learn about the states’ police power and how state power related to the federal governments’ powers.
This lesson is a more advanced version of “State Power” lesson in our State and Local Government curriculum unit.
State governments play many roles. Go beyond basic state government structure to examine how states use their police powers and taxation systems to further state goals, act as innovation incubators to test creative solutions for problems, and team up with the federal government to address major issues.
Introduce students to the basic structure and function of state legislatures, as well as the variety in those structures. Students will learn to identify elements of their own state legislative body, and take a stab at gerrymandering to see the impact of districting on election outcomes.
Ever wonder what state lawmaking looks like? Students track the state lawmaking process as they learn about the people, organizations, and official efforts that help a bill become a law.
Dive into the structure and functions of the executive branches found across state governments! Students learn about the most common executive offices, how the state executive branches regulate actions within the state, and identify the officials in their own state.
Even before the Constitution was ratified, the relationship between state and federal power was unclear. In this lesson, students understand the source of that tension and why the tug-of-war has continued through our nation’s history.
Did you know that the United States has 3,069 county governments, each acting as a critical bridge between the state governments and the people? This lesson covers the diversity in county government structure, duties and services as well as the budgeting process.