England + Ireland: Types of government

In our England + Ireland Units, we learn how England is part of the United Kingdom and operates under a monarchy (technically a constitutional monarcy!). In this activity, we will learn about the basic types of government and how they function.

Around there world, you can find many different types of governments, but the majority can be drilled down to seven basic types:

  • Democracy: a government ruled by the majority – in the case of a representative democracy, the people elect representatives to make the laws (source)
  • Republic: ruled by laws made by elected leaders under the restrictions of a constitution that protects the rights of the minority from the will of the majority (source + source)
  • Theocracy: ruled by religion or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided – political leaders are often also religious leaders and vice versa (source)
  • Monarchy: ruled by king or emperor – in the case of a constitutional monarchy, while monarch is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament (source)
  • Dictatorship: a government ruled with virtually unlimited power by one person or a small group after taking power by force (source)
  • Totalitarian: rule by one or a small number where the government attempts to assume total control over all aspects of citizens’ lives (source)
  • Anarchy: ruled by no system of government or central rule (source)

This video also helps to break down the types of government in a kid friendly way.

For our activity, let’s bring this to life in a memorable way with a flip book and some gummy bears!

What you need:
What to do:

First, we’ll make our flip book. Start by cutting each of your papers progressively shorter by one inch. So your first piece will cut off one inch, the next will cut off two inches, the next will cut off three inches, etc. through to the final piece where you will cut off eight inches. It should look like this:

Stack the papers in size order and staple together at the top, like this:

Now, we’ll label each section, like this:

Depending on your child’s age and interest, they may wish to add more details to each flap, such as the difference between a direct democracy and a representative democracy or more details about a constitutional monarcy.

Next, let’s bring it to life with our gummy bears! As you open each flap, use the gummy bears to “act out” how this type of government functions. For example, you might act out a group of bears electing an official to represent them for democracy:

One bear ruling over others for monarchy:

Or act out anarchy with a bunch of bears doing whatever they want!

As you play, discuss the pros and cons of each kind of government. Which governments benefit the people? Which benefit the rulers?

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.