After completing this Unit of work and associated assessment tasks, students will have met the achievement standard for the Year 4 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum.
This Unit of work is organised into 4 topics
How have laws affected the lives of people, past and present?
Topic 1: Rules and laws
Introduction (15 min)
Use the Introducing … rules and laws page to help write a definition of rules and laws on the whiteboard. As a class, have a look at the WS1.1 Rules brainstorm worksheet to help think of some more rules and laws. For example:
- wearing a seatbelt
- not running in the corridors
- talking quietly in the library
- wearing a bike helmet
Is it a rule or a law? (25 min)
Distribute WS1.2 Rules and laws sort and ask students to cut out the rules, laws and headings into strips. Working in pairs or small groups, ask students to sort the examples into 3 columns ‘rules’ ‘laws’ and ‘unsure’.
Once students have finished, sort the examples as a whole class. Project or print the examples. As students share their sorting, move the examples to the correct column. Discuss the examples students are unsure about and allocate them to the ‘rule’ or the ‘law’ column. You can help students by reminding them that while rules and laws are similar laws are enforced by people such as the police.
Once the rules and laws are checked as a class, ask the students to:
- glue the tables into their books
- write the definition of rules and laws from the Introducing … rules and laws page into their books. They can decorate the page with illustrations of rules and laws.
Topic 2: Reasons for laws
Revision (10 min)
Revisit some of the rules and laws from the previous lesson and ask students to identify consequences for not following these. Discuss with students that rules apply to members of groups while laws apply to everyone and the consequences of breaking rules or laws is one of the ways we can determine whether something is a rule or a law. For example, you can get in trouble for talking in the library (rule), but you can get a fine if you do not wear your seatbelt (law).
Scenario: Planet Lawless (40 min)
Distribute WS2.1 Planet Lawless. Discuss with students the image of citizens of Planet Lawless in various situations – at the bank, the park, driving, walking their dogs etc. Explain to students Planet Lawless is a busy place with lots of activity but it doesn’t have any laws or rules! Ask students to work in small groups to identify 3 rules and 3 laws that could improve how things run on Planet Lawless.
Afterwards have a class discussion about the rules and laws each group came up with and why they think the rule or law is needed. As groups share their rules and laws, sort them on the whiteboard into 2 columns ‘rules’ or ‘laws’. An example can be found below.
Planet Lawless - possible rules and laws
1. Not wearing sunscreen whilst sunbathing
2. Not giving up your seat to old people/vulnerable people on the bus
3. Pushing in line
4. Yelling at people
5. Running with scissors
6. Not returning library books on time
7. Not wearing school uniform
8. Dog off leash in the park
9. No hat, no play
10. Dumping shopping trolley
2. Driving through a red light
4. Riding a bike without a helmet
5. Driving at night without lights on
6. Not indicating when turning
7. Stealing from shops
8. Not picking up dog poo
9. Not tying down trailer load
10. Fishing in a no fishing area
A new law? (30 min)
Start by reminding students that laws are for everyone and are enforced by the police and/or courts. Consequences for breaking laws include fines or going to jail. Explain to students that laws can change over time. Some laws that were very significant and relevant in the past may now seem strange or outdated to us.
Distribute WS2.2 Weird and wonderful laws! What do students think of these laws? Are they useful now? Why might these laws have been made in the past? Discuss as a class why these laws might exist and were relevant in the past. It is worth noting that laws are dynamic and continue to be reviewed, updated and changed over time.
As a class, brainstorm an idea for a new law they think would improve life in Australia. To help students identify different scenarios you might like to share the following examples.
Example 1: I am a member of my family community. My grandma is really old and finds it very busy at the shops when she goes on Thursday mornings to do her groceries. She is very independent and likes to go to the shops alone. I think it would be a really good idea if it was the law so all shops can only serve old people from 10am – 11am on Thursdays.
Example 2: I live in a cat containment area. Living in a cat containment area means my cat is not allowed to go outside and roam freely. Cats can only go into people’s backyards if they are in a cat run. If I want to take my cat outside on a lead, I would be breaking the law. I think it would be a really good idea if it was the law that cats that live in cat containment areas can be walked on a lead.
Portfolio assessment 1: Proposal for a new law (40 min)
Distribute WS2.3 Proposal for a new law and ask students to think of a new law that would improve life in Australia. Remind students to think carefully about their idea for a new law because laws apply to everyone and there would be a legal consequence for breaking it.
Afterwards, students can share their new law with the group.
This activity can be used as an assessable portfolio item for this Unit of work. This task, together with the other suggested portfolio assessment items, align with the achievement standard of the Year 4 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum, including the skills component. Teachers should use the curriculum content descriptions to develop an appropriate marking criterion and rubric.
Topic 3: Land and law
Preparation (duration varies)
Prior to the lesson, review information on the Parks Australia website about the location of Uluru and its significance to its traditional custodians, the Anangu people. Additional information about native title and sacred sites is available on the Austrade website.
Land and law (60 min)
Start by explaining that different groups in Australia sometimes have specific rules and laws to follow, and that students will be investigating this topic in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. Make sure students know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived on these lands for tens of thousands of years. They have traditional laws and customs that are shaped by connection to country. These laws came a long time before the laws explored in the previous lessons. If possible, have a local Elder come in and talk to students about local sacred sites and law. Distribute WS3.1 Interview questions planner and work with students to write interview questions before the visit.
Explore as a class what country means and the importance of looking after country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. You could use the AIATSIS resource Our Land, Our Stories, the First Languages Australia map or the National Museum of Australia Endeavour Voyage website to assist with this. Discuss other rules that could help preserve sacred sites and the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Ask students if they know of any sacred sites and explain they will soon do some research into a scared site. As a whole class visit Uluru on Google Earth and explore the site. Distribute WS3.2 Researching sacred sites and use the example of Uluru to model for your students how to complete this research task.
Portfolio assessment 2: Research and poster task (120 min)
Have students work in pairs to research a sacred site of their choice (preferably local to their area) and write their findings on the WS3.2: Researching sacred sites. Using this research, have students develop a poster to display in the classroom.
This research and poster activity can be used as an assessable portfolio item for this Unit of work. This task, together with the other suggested portfolio assessment items, align with the achievement standard of the Year 4 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum, including the skills component. Teachers should use the curriculum content descriptions to develop an appropriate marking criterion and rubric appropriate.
Topic 4: Local government
Introduction (15 min)
Show students the ABC’s Behind The News: Levels of government video (3 min 38 sec). Show the video again, this time asking students to fill out WS4.1 Behind the news – three levels of government. As a class, discuss that answers and why it is important to have local government.
Next, review this concept by playing the PEO’s interactive, Federal, state and local. Explain to students that all levels of government hold elections, make laws and provide services to the community. Therefore, members of local government are voted into their jobs as representatives, just as members of the state and federal governments are.
Who are my local members and what do they do? (50 mins)
Distribute WS4.2 Discover more about local government. Ask students to visit the website of their local council/shire to answer the questions on the sheet.
Guest speaker (duration varies)
Contact one of your local council/shire members and ask them to talk to the students about what they do, how they became a local councillor and how students can get involved in their community.
To prepare for the talk, distribute WS3.1 Interview questions planner and ask students to write down 3 questions they could ask their local councillor. Students could (re)visit the local council website to help them prepare their questions. For example, they might be interested in looking at projects that the local council are working on and asking questions about these.
After the local member visit, ask students to list 3 interesting things they learnt, one issue they would like to know more about and one way they could get involved. This can be done as a class discussion, as a poster/picture or as a journal entry.