Activity: Kid's Court


Ages:           6-8, 9-12                   What you'll need:     Black trash bag
Location:   Indoors                                                                Scissors
Skills:          Language, social                                                  White paper
 Source:      Familyplay                                                           Gavel
                                                                                                  Writing paper

Help children learn about the court system and also encourage them to practice their language and communication skills in this mock staging of a fictitious court case.

What to do:
1. Make a judge's robe out of the trash bag. Cut a slit in the bottom of the bag for the head and in the sides for the arms.
2. Make a collar from the white paper.

6 to 30 players

Rules of play:
1. Divide the players into three teams. Each team should have pencils and paper.

2. Each team writes two or three cases to be heard in a small claims court. For example, the cases could involve something that was borrowed and not returned or a promise that was made and not kept.

3. When the cases are completed, pick a case to be heard in court. The team whose case was picked has the choice of defendant or plaintiff and chooses a team member to represent them. The second team chooses a member to take the other role, and the third team chooses a member to be the judge for the case.

4. The teams are given five minutes to discuss their positions. The judge's team may help with questions to ask both parties.
5. The judge sits at a table in the center of the room, wearing the robe. The defendant and the plaintiff sit on opposite sides of the judge, with their team members behind them.

6. One person from any team is the bailiff, asking the people to rise when the judge enters the court and asking the parties to promise to tell the truth.

7. The judge asks questions of both parties to help determine the sequence of events, the value of the property, and any other evidence that will help the judge to make a decision.

8. After listening to the answers, the judge makes a fair decision, based on the evidence. The judge can also decide if any money should be awarded to either party.

9. The team that wins the case gets 10 points. After hearing cases from each team, the one with the most points wins.


Sample Court Case:

Case:            Johnson vs. Patterson

Defendant: Cara Patterson

Plaintiff:      Jason Johnson

Claim: Jason Johnson claims that Cara Patterson borrowed his bike for her paper route and had an accident which resulted in $55 in damages to the bike.

Defendant's Defense: Cara Patterson has stated that Jason's bike was not in good working order when she borrowed it and that the brakes failed, causing her to be unable to stop when she was traveling down a steep hill.

Amount of the Suit: $55 to pay the repair bill for the bike.

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