Archive for the ‘History’ Category

What are the Federal Executive Departments?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

federal-executive-departments

What are the federal executive departments of the United States government? Today we will find out through a series of skits!

We have been using the book Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass for our study of high school government, and we find out that the President’s cabinet members are each in charge of different executive departments. We found out in last week’s episode what the line of succession is for President. Now we will describe each department of the federal government.

The group of people directly under the President is the executive department. (The legislative and judicial departments are the other two branches of government, and these two keep the executive department in check.)

Federal Executive Departments of the U.S. Government

The first executive department is the Department of State. This handles foreign relations and makes treaties, promotes peace, and encourages countries to participate in the war on terrorism, among other things.

Next is the Department of the Treasury, which oversees the economic life of the nation and is involved in how the country participates in the global economy. It also oversees coin minting, printing of paper currency, and the IRS.

Third, the Department of Defense has the job of protecting our nation and its interests. This is our nation’s largest employer, with about 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 650,000 civilian employees to support them.

Next, we have the Department of Justice, the head of which is the Attorney General. This department works with the FBI and enforces laws of all kinds.

Then there is the Department of the Interior, also referred to as the department of everything else by some people. This department’s responsibilities used to include a lot of agencies that became their own departments later. Now its primary responsibility is to maintain federal national parks.

The Department of Agriculture creates regulations concerning the quality of food farmers produce, inspects and grades food, supervises farm production, and guarantees that farmers get an adequate income through subsidies and price controls.

Next, the Department of Commerce encourages growth in the economy and promotes trade between American and foreign companies. This department includes the United States Patent and Trademark office, among others.

The Department of Labor‘s job is to protect the rights of American workers by enforcing laws regarding non-discrimination and safety in the workplace. This department also collects information about various aspects of worker conditions such as hourly wage and the unemployment rate.

department-of-defense

Next is the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was created to address the decaying state of many inner city areas and the dilapidated, crime-infested urban areas. It also enforces laws regarding discrimination and safety in apartments.

The Department of Transportation allocates federal funds to road construction and promotes safety in construction sites. It also oversees the transportation infrastructure and makes regulations regarding road safety.

The Department of Health and Human Services has a wide range of tasks from medicare and medicaid, to approving prescription drugs, to certifying the quality of foods and cosmetics sold in America, and much more. It also creates programs to help Native American tribes, the poor, and the elderly.

Next, the Department of Energy encourages energy conservation and supports research in energy technology. It tries to make energy consumption and  production safer and researches alternate renewable sources of energy.

The Department of Education has over 250 programs including training migrant workers, programs for the handicapped, and granting student loans. It also works to prohibit discrimination in schools.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is tasked with providing assistance to veterans, especially those with disabilities because of their service. This department provides health care to veterans and their dependents at little or no cost.

And last, but not least, we have the Department of Homeland Security, which handles national emergencies such as natural disasters. It works to prevent terrorist attacks and makes programs to keep the public educated about such attacks. (In the skit, the blue blanket was a tsunami, in case you couldn’t figure it out!)

And there you have it… the Federal Executive Departments of the U.S. Government!

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

Presidential Line of Succession

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

presidential-line-of-succession

How many of you watch the TV show “Designated Survivor” with Keifer Sutherland? Even though he was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he became the next President because of a bombing of the White House. How did a seemingly random person in the cabinet get to be next in line for President? Today we will find out!

We are studying Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass, and this is the fourth post in our high school government series. There is a chart on page 167 that has the “Order of Presidential Succession.” My kids assumed that there were no more after that list, so they wrote a joke at the end of the video that the Secretary of Homeland Security had better not die because there is no one left to run the government! (In reality, there are probably more people in line.)

The Presidential Line of Succession

Vice President
Speaker of the House
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security

Presidential Line of Succession (Dramatization)

Watch this fun video to find out who is next in line for President!

I hope you enjoyed watching my children keel over, and the purple hat (representing the President) grabbed and placed on the next President’s head. Did you notice the goggles and light bulb in the hand of the Secretary of Energy? Hopefully this goofy dramatization has answered your question as to which person comes next in the line of presidential succession!

Join us next week for the next episode: “Executive Departments of Government”

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

Preamble to the Constitution

Monday, April 10th, 2017

preamble-to-the-constitution

The Preamble to the Constitution is iconic in the establishment of the United States of America because it is the first paragraph of our founding document. Why are the people of the United States establishing this Constitution? For five reasons that are enumerated: for justice, tranquility, defense, the general good, and liberty.

These phrases are described in greater detail in Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass. We find out how the general good was taken out of context in later years to fund programs that the founding fathers would have never agreed to. The whole purpose of the government was to preserve basic rights and freedoms, not to tax the people into oblivion by supporting an enormous bureaucracy.

The Preamble to the Constitution (Dramatized!)

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

How we dramatized the Preamble to the Constitution:

“We the people of the United States, –Everyone stands around wearing sunglasses and pointing at themselves.

in order to form a more perfect union, –Everyone holds a paper that says “Union,” and they begin scrubbing it to make it better.

establish justice, –A person holds a gavel.

insure domestic tranquility, –Everyone sleeps peacefully.

provide for the common defense, –People hold swords and shields.

promote the general welfare, –Someone holds up a sign with “Safety” on it, with people holding toy cars (representing national freeways and safety of vehicles) and pills (regulating the safety of pharmaceutical drugs).

and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, –A parent passes a paper with “Liberty” on it to her daughter.

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” –Everyone scribbles on a huge scroll with “Constitution” written on it.

preamble-of-the-constitution

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the Preamble to the Constitution, dramatized to enable you to remember this first paragraph of the founding document of our great nation.

Next up in the high school government series: Presidential Line of Succession!

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

how-a-bill-becomes-a-law

Today we will dramatize how a bill becomes a law. We are studying Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass, and this is the second post in our high school government series. We are having so much fun as we re-enact many essential concepts about government. This book has helped me (as a parent) understand government better than I’ve ever understood it before.

So without further ado, here is our second government video…

How a Bill Becomes a Law (Video Demonstration)

Costumes and Props in the Skit

My daughter dressed up as a bill. We used poster board and wrote the word “bill” on it. We also gave her a three-cornered hat just for character. We had a congress and a president. The congress sat on chairs and held up Facebook likes (or un-likes) to represent their votes for or against the bill. The president was dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland (no insult intended to our current president…)

voting-in-congress

This is How a Bill Becomes a Law:

  1. A bill originates in the House of Representatives or the Senate. One of the members takes his proposed bill and gives it to the clerk. The clerk assigns it a number and sends it to the proper committee.
  2. The committee deliberates on the bill and proposes amendments to it, and if the committee approves, it is sent back to the House of Representatives.
  3. If the bill passes the House, it goes to the Senate. If it passes the Senate, it is sent to the President.
  4. The President can then either veto or sign it. If he vetoes it, the bill goes back to the House and the Senate. Only if the bill gets a two-thirds majority in both houses will the veto be overridden. Then it becomes a law anyways.
  5. Or if the President signs a bill, then it becomes a law.

president-vetoes-bill

I hope you enjoyed our demonstration of how a bill becomes a law. Stay tuned for next week’s post: Preamble to the Constitution!

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

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