Government Types


Our Government Types lesson plan teaches students about six forms of government — democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, theocracy, totalitarian, and anarchy. Students will be able to describe each type and will be able to compare and contrast them with each other.

Our “Options for Lesson” section suggests additions to the lesson if you’d like to expand it. One of these possible additions is to have students write an essay about what the United States would be like under a different form of government.

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What our Government Types lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Government Types explores the differences between different types of governments.  Students will learn to define, compare, and contrast the different types of governments, and identify their roles in society or a country. This lesson is for students in 5th grade and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. For this lesson, the only supplies you will need are the handouts. You can prepare for this lesson ahead of time by creating the groups for the activity and copying the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional addition to this lesson is to assign a government type to each student and have them do additional research on it, including some countries that currently have that form of government. You can also have your students write an essay where they describe what the United States would be like with a different type of government.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. It notes that you are welcome to expand this lesson by including additional forms of government not already covered here. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Democracy & Dictatorship

This lesson plan includes two content pages. The first section of this lesson begins by discussing what a government actually is. Students will learn that there are six main types of governments that currently exist or have existed historically.

The first of type of government covered in this lesson is democracy. Students will learn that the United States is a democracy, which means that this is the form of government that they live under! In democracies, the citizens of the country hold the power. Eligible citizens can run for public offices at the local, county, state, or national level. Countries hold elections throughout the country at every level. Another important note is that democracies usually have at least two major political parties at any given time.

Next, students will learn about dictatorships. They will learn that a dictatorship is led by a dictator, or one person who holds all of the power. A single person almost always forms this type of government by taking all of the power by force. An example of a dictator from history is Adolf Hitler.

Monarchy, Theocracy, Totalitarian & Anarchy

Students will then learn about monarchies, which is a system of government in which there is a single leader such as a king or queen. This person rules for their entire life! They inherit leadership based on who is the first born in the next generation of the ruling family. Students will learn that monarchies used to be more common than they are today. Today, most monarchies are symbolic. Great Britain, for example, is a democracy that still also has a queen.

Next, students will learn about theocracies, which are governments that recognize a god or divine being as their ultimate authority. They often mix this form of government with another form, such as a democracy. The law of the land is still based on a religion in these cases, though. Iran is a current example.

A totalitarian form of government, on the other hand, is sort of like a dictatorship. However, a single group of people run totalitarian governments, rather than a single person. Students will learn that both Russia and Vietnam used to have totalitarian governments.

The final type of government discussed in this lesson is anarchy. This is a type in which no one has control or everyone is trying to control the country at the same time. This can lead to chaos and violence. It can even lead to civil war!

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Democratic: when a government is a democracy; the United States has this type of government
  • Political parties: different groups of people with different beliefs about how a country should be run; elections are held between them
  • Dictatorship: when a single person holds all of the power
  • Dictator: the person who holds all of the power in a dictatorship; examples include Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro
  • Holocaust: the horrible event perpetrated by Hitler’s government in Germany in which more than 11 million people were murdered
  • Monarchy: has a single leader, such as a king or queen; leadership is inherited by the first born member of the family
  • Theocracy: a form of government that recognizes God or a divine being as the ultimate authority
  • Totalitarian: a form of government where a single group of people have control of a country
  • Anarchy: a form of government where no one has control, or everyone is trying to control the country at the same time


The Government Types lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


The activity for this lesson is a group project where you will assign each group of students a different type of government. Each group will consider how their type of government would handle running the school for a day. The groups first discuss what will happen at the school and in their classroom during the rule of their government type, with the understanding that they are not picking a single student to act as a dictator or individual leader. They can use either the lesson content or the internet to do additional research on their type of government.

Next, they will look at the provided list of questions and discuss them. These questions include, “How is the curriculum of the school chosen?” and “What rules are included for students at the school?” Once they’ve discussed and answered all of the questions, they will create a presentation for the class. They finalize and summarize their plan for how the school would be ruled according to their government type during the presentation. During their presentation, they will answer questions from the rest of the class.

This activity allows students to think through the many decisions and considerations that each type of government must make on a day-to-day basis.


For the practice worksheet, students will match statements with the form of government that most correctly matches it. Their choices are democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, theocracy, totalitarian, or anarchy.


The homework assignment requires students to read sample quotes from imaginary citizens and identify the type of government that would best suit the person making that statement. For example, they would write “dictatorship” next to the statement “I cannot do anything without feeling like someone is watching or listening.”

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. No answer key is provided for the activity worksheet, as each group will present on a different type of government and, therefore, their presentations will vary. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies, Video

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.5, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.1, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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