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Local Government • Functions of Local Government
Classroom Activities

Objective: Identify and explain the ways that local government provides for the safety and well-being of citizens.

Key Questions:

  • Why is local government so critical to the everyday lives of citizens?

Notes on Implementation:

  • Extend learning by having students keep a log of their interactions with local government programs, services, or personnel for the next 24 hours. Have students keep a log of each interaction, including the time, the resource or service they have accessed, the level of government or agency (e.g. county, city, township, school district, etc.), and any other notes that occur to them. Encourage them to keep their log with them and add to it between classes, on their way home, after school, at dinner, and when they wake up in the morning. Debrief by discussing what services they use regularly and why local government is important. Guide them to recognize that the local government is responsible for clean water, utilities, public safety, public education, building and maintaining roads, parks and recreational facilities, etc.
  • If students need support, provide clues and examples. For example, you might run the faucet ("Hmmm, how can I know this water is clean?") or look out the window at a stop sign or traffic light ("How does that car know to stop there?")

Student Activity: Students can access the below activity in the Local Government Topic Center within the American Government database.

Student Activity:

Local systems of government are based on an authorization that is usually created in a state constitution. Local systems of government mirror the three branches of federal and state government: legislative, executive, and judicial.

In this activity, you will learn about the many services provided by local government and how local government affects your day-to-day life.



  1. Begin by thinking about the role that local government plays in your life. List all the services that you can think of that are provided by your local government.
  2. Review the Resources on the American Government database listed above. As you read about new local government programs or services, add them to your list.
  3. Now, look around you. What government resources or services do you see around you? Work with a partner or small group to make a list. Look back at your list of programs and services if needed.
  4. Finally, discuss with your group why the local government is important. Be prepared to support your conclusions with reasons, facts, and examples.
  5. Take turns with the other small groups presenting your ideas about why local government is important. If one group has already shared an idea, you will have to share a different idea. Continue until your class has run out of ideas.


Key Understandings:

  • Local governments play a critical role in citizens' everyday lives, providing services such as police and fire protection, utilities, and education.

Possible Answers for Activity:

Students should be able to list local government services, such as:

  • police services
  • fire services
  • clean water
  • road construction and maintenance
  • trash disposal
  • parks and other public spaces
  • recreational programs
  • social services
  • education
  • public transportation

Students should also be able to explain why these are important, how the community benefits, and/or what might happen if the government did not provide these services.


MLA Citation

"Functions of Local Government." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.

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