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Focus question 5: How should a nation be ruled?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Design a tower simulation (30 min) ESL Activity
Activity 2: Two democracies (35 min) 
Activity 3: Campaign trail (25 min) 
Activity 4: Democracy poster (30 min) 
Activity 5: The Time Tube - board game! (90 min) 
Further activity 

Activity 1: Design a tower simulation (30 min)

As an extension, have the three 'nations' actually build the tower.

1a To revise the principles and processes of the three different systems divide the class into three even groups to produce a design for a new tower to celebrate the nation. They have 10 minutes to plan and create their design.

Group 1 (absolute monarchy): One person is nominated (by the teacher) as the boss. This person will design and draw the tower. The boss can discuss what the tower might look like, but does not have to listen. The boss is the only person responsible for the design. The others can watch and follow directions (Colour that in ... Draw me a ...) but cannot comment. The boss can exclude any person from the task.

Group 2 (direct democracy): The whole group is responsible for the tower. Every person must be involved and all decisions must be made by discussion and vote (size, shape, colour). All decisions must be made first. Any changes or new ideas must be voted on. (Work must stop and all group members must vote.)

Group 3 (representative democracy): The group discusses the design and what it should look like. The group must then select the best two or three people to work on the design. These two or three are responsible for producing a tower that the group likes. They can consult the group and/or receive advice at any time.

1b Debrief: report the group response to the rest of the class.

  • Did you get the task finished? Why/Why not?
  • Who is happy with the design?
  • What were the pluses/minuses/interesting points about the way your group worked?

1c Specific points for each group to consider:

  • Group 1 (absolute monarchy): If this person was good/bad, will the next boss (their son/daughter) be better/worse/the same?
  • Group 2 (direct democracy): What would happen if your group size doubled?
  • Group 3 (representative democracy): What could you do if one (or more) of your designers was not working well?

Handout 14

Activity 2: Two democracies (35 min)

2a Distribute and read Handout 14 to the class.

2b Using the information on the sheet, students fill in the table with as much detail as possible.

2c Students discuss whether the system of direct democracy would work in Australia today.

Some students could now use the Stories of Democracy CD ROM.


Collect students' work and assess using the following criteria. The student can:

  • identify the people with the power to vote in each place
  • identify the people with the power to make laws in each place.
Stories of Democracy

Activity 3: Campaign trail (25 min)

3a Consolidate knowledge by having the class divide into groups to develop an advertising campaign.

  • Group 1 (absolute monarchy): Campaign for rule by one.
  • Group 2 (direct democracy): Campaign for rule by all.
  • Group 3 (representative democracy): Campaign for rule by elected representatives.
  • Group 4 (Citizens' rights group): Campaign for the rights of citizens.

3b Students prepare a two-minute campaign slot to advertise the aspects of their ruling system (Groups 1-3) or citizens' rights. Preparation can include:

  • posters, slogans, placards
  • dramatisation (television advertisement).

Some students could now use the Stories of Democracy CD ROM.

3c Final presentation: Group response 'in role'.

  • each group gets their ideas across in two minutes
  • they promote their system of rule
  • they advertise their rights.
Stories of Democracy

Activity 4: Democracy poster (30 min)

4a Prepare a poster to illustrate representative democracy.

  • Show the ideas about representative democracy you believe to be important.
  • What are the rights of the citizen?

4b Students report back by explaining their posters to the class.


Assess the Democracy posters using the following criteria. The student can:

  • depict the elements of democracy
  • interpret the values of democracy.

Handout 15-16 Poster/Card

Activity 5: The Time Tube - board game! (90 min)

The Time Tube poster provides a game board for a student game about this unit. To complete this resource, students create a pool of 'Rulers' and 'People' game cards.

5a Display Handout 15 and discuss the task. Handout 16 provides two blanks for each type of card.

5b Model the process by preparing one or two examples as a whole class.
Students use previous Handouts to find their information.

5c Distribute Handout 16 for students to prepare their cards.

5d As a class, create a set of simple instructions for playing the game. Students decide what they will need in the way of tokens and dice.

5e Play the game.
Students should write their names on the cards they prepare.


Assess the students' playing cards using the following criteria. The student can:

Students could now use the Stories of Democracy CD ROM.

  • identify at least one of 'the people' studied
  • describe the consequences for those people of living under each ruler
  • identify one of the rulers studied
  • describe the powers of each ruler and the consequences for those ruled.

Further activity

Stories of Democracy
  • Make two advertisements, one for a citizen of modern Australia and one for a citizen of Ancient Athens.

    1. What are citizens of Australia allowed to do?
    2. Who is allowed to be a citizen in Australia today? List the four ways of becoming an Australian citizen.
    3. What were citizens of Ancient Athens allowed to do?
    4. Who was allowed to be a citizen in Ancient Athens? List the three things needed to be a citizen of Ancient Athens.

ESL activities

Back to 'Stories of the People and Rulers - At a glance'

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