Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about local and state governments. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Local and State Government. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Review with your children that a government is a group that sets laws and runs a community. Discuss the role of student body governments and how students elect their peers to help lead and improve the school. Explain that a local government is the body that leads a specific community, such as a town or city. A state government is the body that leads a state. Your children should understand that laws may differ between communities and states. Each state has it’s own constitution, however state constitutions can not conflict with the national constitution. Local and state governments not only set laws, they also provide services. Help your children to understand that the government affects everyone’s lives and it is important to be involved in their community’s government.

The mayor is the elected leader of a local government. Some communities also have city councils, which are elected officials that work with the mayor to set laws and run the community. Communities are grouped into counties and many counties also have their own government that runs the county. The multiple levels of government may include elected positions, like a county sheriff or district attorney, and ensure the safety of community members and manage the day-to-day functioning of the entire community. The local government runs the school system, ensures that its communities have clean running water, organizes emergency services, sets laws to keep its members safe, and much more. Review different responsibilities the local government has in your community.

The state government runs the entire state. The governor is the elected leader of a state government. Each state also elects a senator and representatives to represent their state in Congress and the national government. You may wish to extend the topic by viewing BrainPOP’s movie on the branches of government. We also recommend watching the President movie together as an extension of the lesson. Some positions in the state government are elected, while others are appointed, or chosen, by the governor to help him or her run the state government. Appointees help manage the state’s education and health systems, protect the state’s environment, build and maintain roads that connect communities across the state, and much more.

Explain to children that when people vote, they learn about concerns and issues in their communities and vote for the person they think will represent their views and do the best job. Elected officials represent the people and their goal is to address the needs of their constituents. Encourage your children to be involved with their school and local government and think about improvements that can be made in their communities.