In Block 5 (How We Organize Ourselves), we started learning about societies and governments. You can read about the beginning of our process here: http://architectsofwonder.edublogs.org/2014/03/11/how-we-organize-ourselves/
During one of our discussions about different types of governments, one student asked if we could build cities to show what we know about a government. After thinking this through, we decided we would need to learn enough about a specific type of government in order to really know what a capital city would look like.
We broke into three small groups and each chose a type of government we wanted to learn about. Mrs. Baldwin’s only rule was that we could not choose a democratic republic, since we already have that experience here in the United States.
The government types we chose: Oligarchy, Monarchy, and Dictatorship.
We used Minecraft to build our capital city. We learned that a very small group has all the power in an oligarchy, and they do not provide good resources for the other people of their country. There is usually a very wealthy side of town (minority) and a very poor side of town (majority) in the capital city. South Africa was an oligarchy for many years.
We learned that a Monarchy usually has a king or a queen (or both). Sometimes, the royalty is good to the people of the kingdom, and sometimes not good. Even a good king or queen will cost the citizens of the kingdom a lot of money, because the royalty has an expensive castle or home that is paid for by the citizens. If the king/queen is really good, there will be good resources for the citizens. If the king/queen is not good to the people, the kingdom will suffer. The people will be very poor, hungry, and have bad living conditions. We decided to do a modern style Monarchy where the capital city would have good resources for the people and an expensive castle for the monarchs. Sweden is an example with a sovereign monarch.
We learned that a dictator takes all the power and uses a strong military to control the country’s people. Citizens have little or no freedom at all, and everything depends upon what the dictator wants to do. The dictator’s home in a capital city will be very expensive and have a lot of servants. Also, there will be many guards around the dictator’s home. In the parts of city where the citizens live, they will have a lot of military guards and areas where they are not allowed. All access to the city will be heavily guarded. Examples are Nazi Germany and North Korea.
We loved learning about types of governments by building cities! This activity was our choice, and we learned so much by building. We had to think about details of every building, roads, resources for citizens, and so much more.