Presidential Powers and Responsibilities Lesson Plan: Executive Command Game

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this Executive Command game lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore presidential powers and responsibilities. Students will also apply knowledge about the President’s executive power to real life scenarios and online interactive game play.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Define presidential powers and responsibilities.
  2. Apply knowledge about the president's executive power to real life and simulated scenarios.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Projector or interactive whiteboard
  • Computers for students to use

Vocabulary:

executive branch; policy; cabinet; foreign policy; congress; veto; commander in chief

Preparation:

Download the Executive Command Post-Game PowerPoint. Familiarize yourself with both the Executive Command Game and the Presidential Power Topic Page to plan how you'd like to adapt this lesson plan for your students. You may want to spread this lesson out over a two day period.

The game's objective is for students to take on the role of the President, meeting the daily challenges presidents must face in running a government and keeping the country safe. Students will propose an agenda to Congress, sign bills into law, delegate new laws to the appropriate federal agency, handle international diplomacy, and command the military during times of war. The time frame is one four-year term in office, and the goal is to keep everything running smoothly. More details are available in the Executive Command Teacher's Guide (PDF) made available by iCivics.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Facilitate a class discussion about an important decision the president is facing today. What are the different stances and arguments that the president is hearing from constituents and congress? What factors must he consider in order to make the best decision? What should be the criteria for his decision making--should he overrule the will of the majority of people? Help students get a sense of how important presidential decisions are and how difficult it is to please everyone.
  2. Tell the class they will have a chance to be the president virtually for a full four year term. They'll have the opportunity to make decisions for the country and experience the repercussions of those decisions.
  3. Show the Presidential Power Movie. You may want to turn on closed captioning to aid students in comprehension.
  4. Project the Activity for the class to see. Have volunteers answer the questions, and type in their responses as the class talks about each issue.
  5. Pull up the Executive Command Game and walk students through the introduction and instructions. Because this game is very text heavy, students may be more motivated to stick with game play if you provide a goal within the game. For example, you may want to tell the class that they have 20 minutes to try to pass 5 laws on energy and 3 on education.
  6. Allow students to explore the game with a partner for approximately 20 minutes.
  7. Talk with the class about the strategies they used to be successful in the game. How do these strategies parallel the things the president needs to do in real life in order to use his power wisely?
  8. Give students additional time to play the game independently. You may want to have them reflect in writing about what they learned.
  9. Use the Executive Command Post-Game PowerPoint as an assessment or review tool.

Extension Activity:

The Executive Command game is one of many that were developed by iCivics in conjunction with BrainPOP. You can extend students' understanding of the court system by introducing them to Argument Wars (which permits students to argue real Supreme Court cases), Branches of Power (in which students control all three branches of government at the same time), Law Craft (in which students pick an issue that is important to them and constituents and take it all the way through the law-making process), and Court Quest (which allows students to guide virtual constituents to the right court to hear various types of cases.)

You may also want to use the other Social Studies Games featured in GameUp.