In 1999, the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) launched its educational website, Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids. This year, GPO redesigned and revitalized the site with all new content and features, and it is now available to the public as “Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government.”
The new site presents educational content on the workings of the U.S. Government and U.S. history, with a focus on civics. It features all new site content, a device-friendly infrastructure, and a modernized look and feel that has been optimized for an intuitive learning experience.
Ben’s Guide has three levels of Learning Adventures: Apprentice (ages 4-8), Journeyperson (ages 9-13), and Master (ages 14 and up). These represent the age ranges for the content but are also a historical reference to the longstanding apprentice program that is still in place at GPO today. The inspiration for the Ben character comes from Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), who was an apprentice and printer in the early days of our country. Although best known for being one of our Founding Fathers, he drafted and distributed historical documents during the early years of our Nation. He’s an important figure at GPO, too, and his legacy of publishing information truly lives on in what we do today.
A new, interactive game, Branch-O-Mania, is available, which is not only fun, but educational, and tests knowledge of the three branches of the U.S. Government. Educators, parents, and students can also access free, printable activities that include Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles for various age ranges. Check out the game and printables here. Also included is a site glossary that includes over 80 terms and definitions related to the U.S. Government, as used on the website.
In 2013, GPO signed an official partnership with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Under the terms of the partnership, AASL volunteer school librarians agreed to review the educational content on Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government for age-appropriateness. In addition, they utilized their expertise in curriculum development and educational initiatives to develop lesson plans to complement Ben’s Guide content.
Through ongoing communication and coordination with GPO, volunteers provided feedback on the educational content, called Learning Adventures, for the Apprentice, Journeyperson, and Master levels. They applied their knowledge of the presentation of information and instructional design to the specific age levels to improve and enhance comprehension of the material.
Select volunteers went the extra ‘knowledge’ mile and created lesson plans related to the content of Ben’s Guide. Educators can not only use the new Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government in an educational setting, but can also consult ready-made lesson plans to integrate into their course curriculum. These lesson plans follow a structured rubric that sets forth the elements, standards, scenario, overview, assessment, and instructional plan. Lesson plans submitted by volunteers were reviewed and vetted by AASL before being officially accepted and published.
The lesson plans are archived and available on Ben’s Guide and at the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Lesson Plan Database site. The AASL lesson plans are arranged into three groups: grades K-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12. All of the lesson plans are freely-available to the public and can be accessed and incorporated into the classroom setting.
Be sure to check out the new Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government on your computer, tablet, or device of choice. Let us know what you think. We will continue to enhance the site by adding new content and design enhancements based on user feedback.
You can find other resources related to items featured in Ben’s Guide by clicking here or through any of these methods:
Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.
About the author: Kelly Seifert is the Strategic Communications Coordinator for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management division.