This morning on the AP Gov group, Chad told us that he had a thousand dollars to spend on his government course and he was looking for advice. Instantly, the group started salivating at the thought of what could be done with $1,000 for your classroom.
Instead of actually working, I have spent the morning thinking about how I would answer this question.
Thus this blog post. Many of these things I own, but some I do not. And, this is by no means a complete list. You should see my classroom. Looks like the American flag threw up on it. And I LOVE IT!
Swag for the Classroom
I think learning environments set expectations, and so I collect oodles and oodles of Americana stuff sprinkled over solid content. Here are some that I have, and some that I want. Especially the above Lego set, but supposedly the Lego company will not produce it because it is too political. WhatEVER.
1. A Visual History of the Supreme Court $34.95
I purchased this resource in December, and have yet to really get into it with my kids. However, I love how it shows the partisan tilt of the court, the major cases, the Presidents who nominated the justices, and so much more. Every time I walk past it, I get something new out of it.
While you are at it, check out their sweet bundle that includes a visual history of the Senate, House, and POTUS. ($99.95) Mmmah.
2. 1Canoe2's Hail to the Chief Letterpress ($44)
For your visual learners, let's know our POTUSs one to forty-four. This quick, easy, and cute print can be put somewhere at eye level to help your kiddies know their dudes.
3. Tugboat Print Shop's America the Beautiful ($425)
Yeah. I do want this one, but can't think of anyone who will buy it for me. Beautiful, eye catching prints of our great nation will definitely add some flair to your class, and may be a great conversation starter.
4. HistoryShots History of the Political Parties ($89)
I use this one all the time in class. I cannot tell you how often we refer back to policy, Presidents, court cases... and look at the party evolution. I would classify this one as essential.
5. InformationisBeautiful's Left vs Right ($70)
Another essential, I use this resource all the time in class, particularly in the beginning of the year. They do not always print it, so you have to check back or email the shop directly. It is worth every last penny. I am also waiting for them to print their rhetorical fallacies infographic.
6. Timeplots' Death and Taxes Poster 2015 ($25)
I am officially out of date with my 2013 version, but this poster does a great job showing where discretionary spending goes, and how much relative to other discretionary spending. A must.
7. PEZ Presidents Volumes 1-9 ($12.99 per five Presidents)
Nothing is cooler than a line of 44 PEZ Prez headz. Line them up behind you as a cheaper version of a POTUS bust, which I do want as well. Other options: 1.) Presidential Chia pets. BHO is on my desk. 2.) Bobbleheads. 3.) Unemployed Philosopher's Guild sells finger puppets. Yep. I have one of those, too.
8. GAMES! I did a whole post on that a while ago. My kids still love Constitutional Quest, and I wish I had five more copies so we could play simultaneously as a class.
Books for TEACH
Okay, you are talking to the wrong person here if you think I am not going to give you a list of stuff to buy from the bookstore.
Look at my summer reading list above. Yikes.
Here are a few more that I want to get.
1. Corporations are not People by Jeffery Clements
I listened to an interview with Mr. Clements on Your Weekly Constitutional, and was riveted. Need to read this book. That is also where I got The Rule of the Clan by Mark Weiner
2. Why Jury Duty Matters by Andrew G. Ferguson
Another radio interview alerted me to this little nugget. Anything I can get to sell civic engagement to my kids, I will do.
3. ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern
I read Jessica's book, Terror in the Name of God, a while ago. She is a powerhouse in this genre; lectures at Harvard and works with the U.S. government. She has firsthand knowledge that helps us understand exactly what is happening.
Wow, there are a lot of movies out there. Here is a short list of the ones I use consistently. And, hey! If you have some to add, throw them down in the comments section. I am trying to grow a list of movies by theme to be shared out!
1. Mr. Cao Goes to Washington
Think Mr. Smith, but covering a freshman in Congress today. Pretty great. (I do have Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 12 Angry Men, and Dave as back up sub days, BTW.)
2. Constitution USA, Big Sky, Big Money, Obama's Deal , Freedom Riders, and Bush's War
All from PBS, both worth watching the full hour special.
I wish this were updated, but it such a great and affective look at why the national debt is such a huge bag of downers.
What else? What not?
I dress to impress, but on occasion I break out government related ts. Like my RBG shirt, my We can't have nice things shirt, and my Stamp Stampede shirt. Kids find it amusing, and they start conversations outside of work, too. Flags are great, I have a VA flag behind my desk. I want a Gadsden purchase flag, but have to figure out what its political opposite would be so that the parents who count partisan swag don't get all angry.
I also bought a bunch of Stamp Stampede swag, and incorporated it into lessons. We actually stamped money, got feedback from the public, and my kids loved it. Great investment.
Finally, why not paint your walls? Ask your admin, and give it to your kids as an assignment. I did, and I love the results.
What I would NOT buy are apps. There are so many out there, buying apps is only going to last you so much time. If you want a directory of apps that are free, check me out here. And, oh yeah. You can throw your girl some cabbage. Check out my store.
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan