HOMELink to the lesson plan and materials

Lesson Description: This lesson plan will use The Simpsons episode "Much Apu About Nothing" to teach about taxes and the social debate about them. The students will view the episode and use their observations to spearhead the rest of the lesson.

The Simpsons in Social Studies Lesson Plan

Author: Brian Adams

Subject: Politics/Government

Topics Covered: Taxes

Overview: This lesson will utilize The Simpsons episode 3F20 “Much Apu About Nothing”. The lesson plan could be used for numerous topics, but this lesson will focus on the early part of the episode that talks about taxes. The episode will be used to show how citizens often want their government to protect them and offer valuable services, but how these services often come at the expense of the taxpayer. The episode shows how the townspeople react to a tax increase. It will hopefully get the students thinking about the necessity of taxes.

Lesson Essential Question(s)

· How can governments increase or decrease social programs, what kind of problems might arise when they try to start them?


· Pennsylvania State Standards for Government and Politics

o 5.3.8.I


· The Simpsons episode 3F20 “Much Apu About Nothing”

· Graphic Organizer


· Previous Info

o Students should have already started learning about taxes. Today we will talk about the issues behind taxes and when politicians try to raise them.

· Introduction

o Students should make a list on their own that compiles all of the things our government uses tax money for.

o After the students have created their list, they should share their lists with their partners and combine lists.

o Go around to the different pairs and have students’ volunteer examples from their lists to the class. Have other students determine whether or not these programs, etc should be paid for by the government.


1. Put in the episode of The Simpsons “Much Apu About Nothing” and pass out the Viewing Guide and the Graphic Organizer to the students.

2. Have the students watch the first 10 minutes of the episode. They will watch as Springfield comes upon a bear problem in town, and asks the local government to do something about it. They should next see how the local government responds to it, and why the new expenditure causes another problem.

3. Students should write down the cause and effect that they see going on in the episode and explain each side.

4. After the video, have students volunteer their answers to each part and discuss it as a class.

5. Next, ask the students how Springfield got itself into a tough situation. (Answers should be that they wanted the government to add a new program, but got angry when that new program meant higher taxes, then when they complained about the higher taxes the government blamed the problem on immigrants.

6. Students should then try to come up with alternate ways in which Springfield could have solved their problem (they should come up with either cut funding for other programs to raise funding for the new program, or raise taxes, or the government can simply not fund as many programs)

7. Show the following question on the board, have the students come up with a response to it.

a. What would happen if the government only followed

i. Add programs without increasing taxes

ii. Raising taxes every time new programs are added

iii. Only add funding to new programs when funding to other programs is cut

iv. Never add new programs?


  • Why can society never truly get all the programs it wants without actually having to pay for it in the long run?