Inspiring through Experience

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

LILI Unit: U.S. Capitol

Essential Question:
What is the role of the legislative branch of our government?
Pre-trip lesson:  During this unit, students examine the three branches of government, with particular focus on the legislative branch.  They explore the composition and responsibilities of Congress and the ways voting power is determined in its two houses.  Students also explore Washington, DC’s lack of voting representation in Congress and ways in which that fact can influence their lives.  In addition, students discover the history of the Capitol itself – from its move from Philadelphia to Washington, DC and the use of slave labor during its construction to significant architectural enhancements it has undergone since its completion in 1800.  Finally, students work with tangrams to develop a conceptual understanding of fractional operations.
Level of Difficulty:
Low
Trip:  Students first visit the newly constructed Capitol visitors’ center, where they view an introductory video and learn more about the history of the Capitol and the operations of the legislative branch of government. Then, students receive a private guided tour through the Capitol itself and explore its vast rotunda, National Statuary Hall, and the Crypt, learning, at each stop, about the different people and events depicted throughout.  Some classes even get to meet Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and visit her office!
Academic Standards:

  • English Language Arts (CC.5.RI.2, CC.5.L.4.b)
  • Mathematics (CC.5.NF.1)
Post-trip lesson:  As a culminating activity, students voice their concerns and ideas to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton in a letter writing activity.  This activity allows students to exercise their rights as Washington, D.C. residents to inform and advise their delegate to Congress about issues faced by D.C. residents.  Through this activity, students begin to recognize the importance of their voices in making changes in their communities.  Students also test their knowledge of the legislative branch, and the Capitol as they compete in a collaborative review game and take written assessments.