By Megan McClure
While most adults and kids alike may be stuck inside for the foreseeable future, current events offer a pertinent avenue into the workings of our government.
With a renewed focus on state actions, their governors, legislatures and other public institutions, citizens of all ages may have questions about how state government works and how they can effectively engage with decision-makers.
NCSL, along with state legislatures and other organizations, provides a wide range of resources (some state-specific) for those seeking to learn, or teach, about state legislatures, separation of powers and how to get involved in state and local government.
Civics Education at NCSL offers resources and materials for those who are interested in learning about or teaching how our form of government works. From our popular talking point card and legislative process infographic, to grade-specific materials and videos (all available electronically), we’ve got you covered.
Another avenue for audiophiles and podcast addicts is NCSL’s podcast miniseries, "Building Democracy." This short-form podcast introduces the characters and tells the stories of America’s state legislatures through history. The second episode covering the evolution of deliberative bodies during the American Revolution was just released.
Most state legislatures produce their own state-specific materials for students. These materials can include trivia games, pamphlets and workbooks, as well as boardgames such as the Washington Legislature’s endlessly engaging “Chutes and Lawmaking.” NCSL has collected links to state-specific learning activities and materials on our Civics Education Resources page.
Also included on the resources page is a list of national nonprofit groups committed to promoting and creating innovative ways to teach and support civics learning. From iCivics’ wide range of free online games, to the Center for Civics Education’s in-depth lesson plans and publications, there’s something for students, teachers, parents and legislators and staff looking to connect with students even while social distancing.
Want to build a connection with students in your district and foster their interest in civics and state legislatures? Check out this innovative idea from Representative Jon Bramnick (R-N.J.), who decided to host a Facebook Live class on government for elementary students.
Megan McClure is a research analyst with NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program.