Three Branches of Government

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
3 weeks
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will learn about the three branches the of U.S. federal government and complete activities that help solidify and expand their knowledge
  • We have provided a series of activities that allow students to gain basic information about the three branches of government and to complete a series of tasks that relate to each branch. The lessons have Internet links where students may find the information needed.
  • We have provided worksheets that may be duplicated for class use.
  • We have provided specific tasks to assist students in research. 
  • We have provided a How A Bill Becomes A Law game which can be enlarged and pasted inside a file folder so that students may play this with a partner at their desks. You may wish to make several of these games.
  • We have provided a Government Crossword Puzzle.
  • Students may also play our Government Challenge Quiz on-line.
  • Finally, we have proposed a series of projects to engage students in a more in-depth study of government.
Rationale (why are you doing this?)

To teach middle school students the three branches of government

Lesson Objectives - the student will

Students will be able to explain the roles of the three branches of government

The Students will be able to define terms that relate to the three branches of government

The students will be able to complete internet research on the three branches of government

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Missouri Standards

1. Principles expressed in the documents shaping constitutional democracy in the United States

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

3. Principles and processes of governance systems


Kansas Standards

Kansas 5th Grade

Benchmark 3: The student understands how the United States Constitution allocates power and responsibility in the government.

2. (K) defines the separation of power and gives examples of how power is limited (e.g., the President can nominate a Supreme Court Justice, but Congress has to approve).

Kansas 6th Grade

Benchmark 3: The student understands how the United States Constitution allocates power and responsibility in the government.

Kansas 7th Grade

Benchmark 3: The student understands how the United States Constitution allocates power and responsibility in the government.

3. (K) explains why separation of powers and a system of checks and balances are important to limit government.

Kansas 8th Grade

Benchmark 3: The student understands how the United States Constitution allocates power and responsibility in the government.

1. (K) understands that the United States Constitution is written by and for the people and it defines the authority and power given to the government as well as recognizes the rights retained by the state governments and the people (e.g., separation of power, limited government, state’s rights, the concept “by and for the people”)


Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

There are 5 main focal areas to these teaching materials:

Our Three Branches of Government and Balance of Power

Legislative Branch

Executive Branch


Judicial Branch


Each area has background information, activities and projects. Each area provides Internet links to other sites where information may be obtained for student research. We have provided two formats for teaching using these materials. The first is a DAILY SCHEDULE FORMAT and the second is PROJECT FOCUS FORMAT.


The entire unit could be taught as a 3 week (15 days) government focus, or separated into sections that fit areas of your curriculum as needed. A suggested schedule is listed below for the 3 week course including the Cabinet project. Suggest having students do the How a Bill Becomes a Law file folder game and the Government Quiz (URL) on the web site, as ongoing reviews and activities.

DAY 1: Students use the computer lab and access the site. Read 3 Branches of Our Government. Print off the accompanying worksheet and fill in the blanks as individuals or partners. Discuss in class together the main points and have students check their own worksheets and correct them. Keep these for review.

DAY 2: Students use the computer lab and access the site. Read The Legislative Branch and The House of Representatives and complete the tasks as individuals or partners using the suggested web sites. Print off the The Legislative Branch worksheet and have students fill in the blanks.

DAY 3: Review the Legislative Branch worksheet. Students check and correct their own work. Save this sheet for review. Review responses to House of Representatives tasks. Students use the computer lab and access the site. Students work in partners to read and complete tasks on The Senate--Voice of the States. Print off Questions for the Senate--Voice of the States. Students complete activities together. However, each student writes a report in his/her own words on one of the five famous senators listed.

DAY 4: Review work from Day 3. Students keep corrected pages for review and read their senator report to a partner. Students spend time in the computer lab reviewing the sites suggested on United States Capitol. Students then access the site How A Bill Becomes a Law and complete activities. Play in partners the folder game How A Bill Becomes a Law (see games and puzzles section) Print off the following as homework assignments: Congress - Courts--Keeping the Balance; Congress - President--Keeping the Balance.

DAY 5: Check homework. Print off The Executive Branch and run off copies for class. Print What a President Can and Cannot Do and make this a transparency.

Brainstorm with students about what they think a President’s powers are. List these on board or overhead. Pass out the The Executive Branch. Read together and discuss. Use the transparency you have made and have students compare this list with what is on the chart. Students come to the front to mark off the chart duties listed there that are not correct. Print off both the information sheet and worksheet The Judicial Branch and use as a homework assignment. Print off Government Crossword Puzzle and have students complete this at home.

DAY 6: Check homework. Print off both the information sheet and worksheet The Balance of Government and do this in class. Review together in groups the worksheets they have saved and quiz each other over the material. Homework assignment: Each student writes a fill in the blank test of fifteen questions and a separate answer sheet.

DAY 7: Students trade quizzes and answer them. Return to author and have them graded. Collect. Students get points for level of test questions submitted and their answers on the other test.

Give essay quiz over material presented. (Allow students to use their notes.) Essay possibilities are suggested below:

  • Describe how a Congress can check a President.
  • Describe why the job of a Supreme Court Justice is so important and powerful.
  • Describe in detail which job you would prefer and why: President, Senator, Representative, or Supreme Court Justice. Use facts from your information sheets.
  • Draw a diagram or picture showing the three branches of government and the main focus of what each one does.

    DAY 8: Cabinet Focus: Students use the computer lab. Access site and go to part called Why Does the President Need a Cabinet?. Students read and complete activities. Then have students go to: The President’s Cabinet-Who are the Secretaries?. Have them read the list and access the listed web site to complete activity. Compare and report on answers.

    DAY 9: Cabinet Focus: Student use the computer lab. Go to web site and access Cabinet Web Sites information page. Divide into partners. Each partner group will prepare a report on one Cabinet department. See guidelines under Cabinet Department Presentation. Suggest giving 2 days to complete.

    DAY 10 & 11: Students work on project.

    DAY 12 & 13: Project presentations. Students watching take notes on fellow classmates’ presentations. Homework assignment: Study notes.

    DAY 14: Quick quiz over departments. Suggest writing role or area of focus and having student write the name of the department next to it. Do twenty questions so some departments have more than one blank.

    DAY 15: May do "A Cabinet Meeting" activity.


    Students are given 4 days to complete all the activity pages and on-line tasks for each of the three branches and balance of power plus Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branch activity pages. Students may work in partners or individually. Students are given lab time and the teacher serves as the advisor and facilitator. However, students are expected to do some sections as homework. Students keep all work in an electronic or paper copy portfolio for future checking and presentation.

    On the fifth day, questions and activities are checked in groups of four. Teacher roams around meeting with each group discussing their questions and which answers were being debated. Students make corrections so that they will have accurate information for the upcoming project. Introduce the "Teach Another Class Project" and decide on scoring guide.

    Projects and Presentations:

    Teach Another Class About What They Have Learned: (3 days preparation + 1 day presentation)

    Students are divided into six groups (four each), two groups are assigned the Legislative Branch, two groups are assigned the Executive Branch, and two groups are assigned the Judicial Branch. Each group summarizes materials studied the first 5 days and conducts additional research on-line. Then each group designs a chart, backboard, PowerPoint presentation, a series of colorful overheads, or other format to teach another class about their subject. Arrange for students to make presentations to two classes. One set of three groups (Legislative, Executive, Judicial) presents to each class. Each group must time their presentation and keep it to ten minutes. Develop a scoring guide as a class to determine criteria for presentation. Students do a trial run for teacher before going "on the road" with their presentation.

    Cabinet Project: (3 days preparation = 2 days presentation)

    Students divide into partners for the Cabinet Project (see above). They are given 3 days to complete the project and 2 days are provided for presentations

Links to Puzzles and Games

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide


3 Branches of

Our Government




1. What are the 3 branches of our government? Legislative, Executive, Judicial.

2. The Legislative Branch of our government makes the laws.

3. The Executive Branch of our government enforces our laws.

4. What are the two parts of our Congress? Senate and House of Representatives.

5. There are 100 senators.

6. The President is elected by eligible United States citizens who vote and by the Electoral College system.

7. Senators and representatives are elected by voters in their states.

8. Justices study laws to see if they are correct according to the Constitution.

9. Where do the major branches of our federal government meet and work? Washington D.C.

10. The President is the leader of the Executive Branch of our government.