Free Civic Studies Lesson 13: The State, the City, and the Town

What a state is and the government of cities and towns.

Read the current chapter online: “The State, the City, and the Town.”

  • Learn more about the Washington Monument.
  • Take in the view from one of those “slits” in the Washington Monument.
  • Learn more about the Eiffel Tower.
  • When it was completed, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world. Of course, that was then. Learn more about the tallest buildings in the world today.
  • Learn more about the Bunker Hill Monument.
  • Visit the Washington Monument virtually.
  • If you have been keeping a Latin notebook, you can add Facilis descensus averni and its meaning.
  • Learn more about the Washington Monument stones.
  • View the (extensive) catalog of the Washington Monument stones to view the ones referred to in the book.
  • Complete a short character sketch of George Washington that explains why one could consider “the inside of this great obelisk a capital object-lesson of the world’s regard for the memory of George Washington.”
  • Create a banner illustrating the nation’s motto: “Many in one.”
  • Obviously we have 50 states now instead of the 45 mentioned at the time the book was written in 1894. Which five were added in that time?
  • Do you see “Maine, in outline like a grenadier’s hat, leading the advance” in the outline of the state of Maine?
  • Or Massachusetts, with “bended arm and doubled fist ‘squaring off at all creation’”?
  • How about “New York, a giant wedge with the little end at Buffalo keeping Niagara Falls from tumbling all over the State”?
  • “Shield-shaped Ohio“?
  • “Purse-shaped Florida“?
  • California, like a great sea lion, rearing itself to face the Pacific breakers”?
  • Choose an analogy similar to the ones above that would help a person recognize the shape of your state. (If your state has already been mentioned, choose another to work with.)
  • Compare and contrast the state’s functions with the Union’s functions as outlined on pg. 197.
  • If you live in the United States, mark your city, county, and state on this map.
  • Create a flip book showing the responsibilities of a citizen to his country, state, and city/county as outlined at the bottom of pg. 197.
  • Find your state house and learn more.
  • Copywork: Copy the last paragraph on pg. 200.

Learn more about citizenship:

The city, the town and the county are parts of the state, and the state is a part of the nation, and the nation means more than a few officers. The nation is all the people of your country acting together. It is not something far above you that you must obey and with which you have nothing to do. The nation is you, your father and your mother, your brothers and sisters, the people around you, and the people far away, in Maine or California, Florida or Idaho — all those who live under the flag and love it. All of them help to make up the nation as it is today; and it is what it is because of them and because of the many Americans who have gone before.

How difficult and inconvenient it would be if your family lived apart from everyone else! You would have to do without most of the things that make life pleasant. Your family could not build roads and bridges, could not keep up schools and could not protect itself. All the people working together can do these things….

For you, policemen walk the streets, firemen are always ready to save you, doctors are trying to make the land healthful, brave soldiers and sailors are guarding the coasts. Thousands of men, and women, too, are working for you, and other young citizens like you — working to make this world a better place for you to live in, working to give you a better opportunity to grow up strong, healthy and wise.

“You and Your Flag” from The Book of Knowledge

Additional Resources

5 Things You Might Not Know about the Washington Monument
From the History Channel.

Frequently Asked Questions
About the Washington Monument.

The Point of a Monument
The history of the Washington Monument’s aluminum cap.


Photo Gallery
Washington Monument in pictures.

Animated Atlas of the United States {Freebie}
View the addition of the states to the Union.

The Growth and Distribution of American Cities
Census information showing the growth of American cities through time.

City Government
Great interactive to help understand the roles of city government.

Understanding Federalism
Lesson plan from the National Archives to help understand the roles of local government.


The Washington Monument
Free eBook detailing the history.

Units & Lesson Plans
The Eiffel Tower: A Unit Study

The Eiffel Tower: A Unit Study
Fun side trip.

Free History Studies: George Washington
Learn more about the man behind the monument.

Ready to Explore Your State? {Free State Unit Studies}
Now is a great time to learn more about your own state!

How Citizens Can Participate
Lesson plan from the Center for Civic Education.

Compare and Contrast Local Government Around the World
Simple but effective lesson plan aimed at middle grades.

Notebooking Pages & Printables

Highest and Lowest Points on Earth
Fun graphic for comparison.

State, City & Town Notebooking Pages
Our free and simple notebooking pages for copywork, narrations, dictations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series:
Free Civics Studies
Free Civics Studies: The Century Book for Young Americans

Create a website or blog at