The role and importance of rules and laws


The role and importance of rules and laws

Resources you'll need for this unit:

Multiple copies of Mr Stink by David Walliams, HarperCollins, London, 2010 or a copy of Mr Stink (2012), dir. Declan Lowney, BBC One; worksheets (provided in the downloadable unit above, or within each lesson below.)


Unit body

The lesson plans are designed to be completed after students have read the story (or viewed the film/play) as they will need to be familiar with the characters and plot to understand and complete the activities.

Click on any of the lesson titles below to expand each lesson plan.

Lesson one: Rules and laws

Lesson information

Learning objective: By the end of the lesson the students will have identified the difference between a rule and a law.

Curriculum links: ACHASSK092, ACHASSI079, ACHASSI080

Resources: Crumb house rules (resource one); All about laws worksheet (worksheet one); All about laws examples (worksheet 1).


Lesson orientation

Teacher led class discussion:

  • Imagine you are a friend of Chloe Crumb and you are going to visit her house for a weekend in the holidays, have a look at the rules for the Crumb household (resource  one). Class discussion about some of the rules the students experience in their own homes.
  • Where else do students encounter rules—some examples include—classroom, school, board games, sport, clubs/groups and locations such as libraries, swimming pools, or other. Teacher to record the examples of where you find rules provided by the students.
  • What do students think a rule is? How is a rule different to a law? What do students think a law is?
  • Look at the list of where do we find rules on the board, can students identify where laws might apply in any of these places (e.g. for school a law is that students are required to attend school, swimming pool law for health and safety is water must be clean to a certain standard)

Lesson body

Students to complete worksheet 1—group discussion—each group to provide an example of one rule and one law for the area of your school on the worksheet. When groups have completed the worksheet each group can report back to the class on what rule and law they have identified. How many different rules and laws were they able to identify? Who do they think makes rules? Who do they think makes the laws?


Lesson reflection

Can the students come up with a definition for a rule and a law? Is this different from what they thought at the start of the lesson?

  • What is a rule? (Made by a group, affects people only in that group eg. rules for classroom, sport)
  • What is a law? (Made by the government, affects all people eg. school zone 40 km/hr)
Lesson two: Why are laws important?

Lesson information

Learning objective: By the end of the lesson the students will have identified why laws are important and how laws can affect their lives.

Curriculum links: ACHASSK092, ACHASSI059, ACELY1689

Resources: MPI role-play script and example topics (resource 2)


Lesson orientation

In the book Mr Stink, Mrs Crumb would like to have a new law banning homeless people from the streets in her town because “they are a menace to society……and they smell” (policy 20, pg 88). Discuss what would happen to Mr Stink if there was a law banning him from living on the street, how would he feel about this, do the students think this is a good law or not and what type of laws might be good for helping homeless people.

The Legislative Assembly has discussions each sitting week called 'Matters of Public Importance (MPI)' that members can use to highlight policy areas that need improvement or changes to help the people of the ACT. The students can utilise the role play (resource two) to discuss a law they think would be good for them and their families.

Consider showing students this short clip on a MPI being done (4 minutes 35 seconds).

Lesson body

A matter of public importance is lodged by members and drawn from a hat by the Speaker at the start of a sitting day.

The steps to complete the role play are as follows:

  • Decide on 3 topics where students think a new or improved law could be created, this can be done through a class or group (3) discussion. A matter of public importance always starts “The importance of ………………….” submitted by ……………………….. All topics must be in this format.
  • Resource two provides an example of laws for the homelessness issue if it is preferred. The first one relates to improving public housing law to help homeless people, the second for the government budget (which is a law) to provide money to organisations that help homeless people and the third to health and safety law for official checks on people who are working with homeless people.
  • Write the 3 proposed topics for a new or changed law on a separate piece of paper with the name of 3 students who each submit a different topic. The 3 students submitting the topics will be required to speak first if their topic is selected from the hat for the MPI discussion as they speak first to open the debate.
  • The 3 pieces of paper are placed in a hat or container so that 1 can be drawn out.
  • The Speaker is the person who draws the topic from the hat. Before this can be done a Speaker will need to be chosen, this can be done by the teacher or by a vote where students who would like the role nominate and class members vote. It is best to only have between 2 or 3 people nominate, the students not selected as Speaker can be the Chief Minister (leader of the Government) and Leader of the Opposition.
  • Once a Speaker has been selected they can then draw a topic out of the hat. Write this on a board for the students if required. This will be the only topic discussed during the MPI role play.
  • The student who submitted the chosen topic must speak first. Allow all the students 5-10 minutes to write something down on a piece of paper about the topic that they would like to say during the role play. As part of writing their short speech students should consider their understanding of what the law in this discussion might do, why they think it might be important to have this new or changed law and what impact the law might have on people.
  • It is usually optional to speak in an MPI discussion however students will often stand to speak if they already have something written down. Students can only speak once during the discussion.
  • Set up student chairs represent the Assembly, the Speaker (1) and Clerk/ If a mace has been made, the Serjeant-at-Arms carries this. (A and B) each need a small table. Remaining students can just use chairs in a “U” shape facing each other to represent the chamber. The Speaker has already been decided, other students from that vote could be the Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition. A Clerk (which is pronounced c-l-a-r-k) is required, they perform the role of Serjeant-at-Arms. The student filling this role does not participate in the debate as they are not a member. The teacher can nominate the student or ask for a volunteer

Diagram showing a basic set out of a chamber for an MPI role-play.

  • Once students have taken their positions around the mock chamber the role play can commence. The Speaker and Serjeant-at-Arms enter from the corner of the class room, Members are already standing at their places. A mock mace can be made as an extension to this lesson, alternatively an object from the classroom can be a mock mace (eg. a long ruler). The Speaker is announced by the Serjeant-at-Arms who can place the mock mace on the font of the Clerk’s desk.
  • Complete role play as scripted (resource two).

Lesson extension

Extend the lesson by talking about what a mace is, what it symbolises, and making your own. Lesson plan for a mace.


Lesson reflection

At conclusion of role play discuss where they think laws are discussed and made, do they know where a Speaker and members work (parliament), why are laws made in a parliament (made for everyone), why is it important that we have laws and do they know what happens if you break the law. Students should identify that laws:

  • keeps everyone safe;
  • build social behaviour such as respect and protection of other people and the environment;
  • equality and fairness as laws apply to everyone; and
  • outlines the consequences of breaking the law.

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