Government and Citizens
4th Grade Government and Citizens Inquiry

Why Does New York Have a State Snack?
Download Entire Inquiry Here

Staging the Compelling Question
To open this inquiry, teachers may point out that New York has an official state bird (Eastern bluebird), a state reptile (snapping turtle), and a state tree (sugar maple). Brainstorm why such symbols are important in general and why New York might have an official state snack (yogurt) in particular.

Supporting Question 1-Where does our government get its power?
  • Source A: Syl Sobel, description of the difference between monarchy and democracy, The U.S. Constitution and You (excerpt), 2001
  • Source B: Constitutional Convention, opening paragraph of the United States Constitution and explanation, “Preamble” (with explanation), 1787
Preamble to the Constitution
Original Text
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Preamble explains the purposes of the Constitution and defines the powers of the new government as originating from the people of the United States.
Public domain. Available from the National Archives: Explanation created for the New York State K–12 Social Studies Toolkit by Binghamton University, 2015.

Supporting Question 2- Why do we need government?
  • Source A: Chart describing the functions of government at different levels, “What Do Governments Do?”
  • Source B: New York City Council, law to prohibit smoking in public areas, 2002 Smoke Free Air Act (NYC) (excerpts), New York City Administrative Code, 2002 NOTE: The Smoke Free Air Act (SFAA), which went into effect on March 30, 2003, prohibited smoking in virtually all workplaces and indoor recreational venues. An amendment to the city’s 1995 Smoke-Free Air Act, the new law extended rules on smoking to cover all restaurants and most bars regardless of seating and size. The law also restricts smoking in some outdoor restaurant and bar seating areas.
    § 17-503 Prohibition of smoking.
     a. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas within public places except as otherwise restricted in accordance with the provisions below.
     Such public places include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Public transportation facilities, including, but not limited to, ticketing, boarding and waiting areas of public transit depots.
    2. Public means of mass transportation, including, but not limited to, subway cars and all underground areas of a subway station, buses, vans, taxicabs and all for-hire vehicles, including but not limited to limousines, required to be licensed or franchised by the city of New York.
    3. Public restrooms.
    4. Retail stores (other than retail tobacco stores).
    5. Restaurants.
    6. Business establishments….
    7. Libraries, museums and galleries.
    8. Motion picture theaters, concert halls….
    9. Auditoriums.
    10. Convention halls.
    11. Sports arenas and recreational areas.
    12. Gymnasiums, health clubs and enclosed areas containing a swimming pool….
    14. Health care facilities including, but not limited to, hospitals, clinics….
    15. All schools other than public and private pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools providing instruction for students at or below the twelfth-grade level, including, but not limited to, community colleges, technical training establishments, specialty schools, colleges and universities.
    16. Children's institutions.
    17. Zoos.
    18. Elevators….
Supporting Question 3- How is our government organized?
  • Source A:, chart showing the structure of the United States government, “3 Branches of Government,” 2015
  • Source B: New York State Senate, description of the structure of government in New York State, “Branches of Government in New York State” (excerpts), 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Supporting Question 4- How can citizens influence government?
  • Source A: PBSKids, graphic depicting the importance of voting, “Step Inside the Voting Booth,” 2015
  • Source B: Ken Rogoyski, video describing a state snack campaign, Yogurt for New York State Snack, March 21, 2014
  • Source C: New York City Press Office, announcement of the official designation of yogurt as the state snack, “Governor Cuomo Designates Yogurt as Official New York State Snack,” October 15, 2014 Available at New York State website:
New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices
4.4 GOVERNMENT: There are different levels of government within the United States and New York State. The purpose of government is to protect the rights of citizens and to promote the common good. The government of New York State establishes rights, freedoms, and responsibilities for its citizens.
4.4b The New York State Constitution establishes the basic structure of government for the state. The government of New York creates laws to protect the people and interests of the state.
 Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence      Comparison and Contextualization      Civic Participation
Staging the Compelling Question Brainstorm reasons why New York would have an official state snack.