This activity demonstrates the many ways law touches our lives and
the importance of understanding laws. Students will recognize the
influence of laws on daily life and realize that laws are made not only
to control social behavior, but to regulate and protect citizens. This
activity can be adapted easily to focus on a specific areas of law or
government; for example, an exploration of family law with a story about
being born, growing up, getting married (or not), having children (or
- Tell students that you are going to narrate a story and that they
should stop your narration when they think you have mentioned something
that pertains to the law.
- Begin to narrate your daily activities. For example: “This morning I
woke up at 6:00 am. I took a bath, got dressed, ate a breakfast of
cereal and coffee, and then I got in my car and drove to school. I
checked my mailbox in the office, etc.”
- The students should have stopped you at a number of places to mention points such as the following:
- Your name is a legal device that cannot be changed without court approval.
- Time is regulated by law. The official time in the United States is
kept by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the
U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Water for bathing is inspected by city officials and must meet standards regulated by law.
- Clothing and furniture must have the contents listed on a label.
- Cereal boxes are required by law to list the ingredients on the box.
The chemicals given to the cows that produce the milk are controlled
and must meet standards regulated by the law.
- Cars must have safety and pollution control devices that are regulated by law.
- Drivers must be licensed and must obey traffic laws.
- Streets are built and maintained under standards regulated by law.
- As an alternative, you may ask the students to challenge you—ask
them to name something that is not regulated by a law, and you will try
to explain how it is. Examples:
- Breathing is regulated by air quality laws and pollution control standards.
- Talking to a friend may be regulated by free speech laws, noise ordinances, hate speech laws.
- Conclude the activity with a discussion. You might ask:
- What surprised you?
- What did you learn?
- What do you want to know more about?
- Who makes laws?
- Who makes regulations? How are they different than laws?
- Who chooses the people who make laws and regulations?
- Which level of government is responsible for the laws and regulations we discussed? (Local, state, federal?)
- If you wanted a new law or regulation—or if you wanted to amend or remove one, what steps could you take? Who could you contact?
- Segue into the specific area of law or policy that is the focus of the lesson today.