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3 Branches of Government Lesson for Kids

Updated on August 14, 2018
iijuan12 profile image

I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

3 Branches of Government Constitution Lesson for Kids
3 Branches of Government Constitution Lesson for Kids

If you could hold a position in one of the branches of government, which branch would you pick?

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This is the 14th lesson in a series of 27 hands-on lessons covering American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on the 3 Branches of Government in the Constitution. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Each lesson includes a biography report, history notebook page, history song, our favorite children's books, YouTube video, a history joke, & a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

Student presentation on Alexander Hamilton
Student presentation on Alexander Hamilton

Student Biography Presentation: Alexander Hamilton

1. Student biography presentation on Alexander Hamilton

Constitution Cupcakes
Constitution Cupcakes

Review & Constitution Cupcakes

2. Review: What is the document we learned about today that tells the rules for how America's government will run? (Constitution) Who is called the "Father of the Constitution"? (James Madison) What do we call the first part of the Constitution? (Preamble) Let's sing the Preamble again. [Sing it twice while flipping through the book from last week's class.]

You will need:

  • We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow or We the People: The Constitution of the United States by Peter Spier (which also has words to illustrate the text of the Preamble -- though the pictures are smaller) OR a monitor or projector to show the SchoolHouse Rock video

3. Hold up the cake mix box used to make the cupcakes.

  • Ask what it is. Point out the directions on the back.
  • Pull out a copy of the Constitution from inside the box. Tell the children that just like the recipe on the back of the box gives directions on how to make the cupcakes, the Constitution gives directions on how to make our U.S. government.
  • Our Constitution wasn't made from scratch, though. It was like this box that already had some ingredients pre-made, but they were all top quality just like this top quality Ghiradelli cake mix. Our Founding Fathers took ideas from the Bible, ancient Roman laws, and other places to bake up this new government.

You will need:

  • a cake mix box with a copy of the Constitution (printed from online) inside

4. After lots of work, our Founding Fathers finally created this Constitution which was the recipe for our government. I followed the directions on this box to make Constitution Cupcakes. Would you like to try them? Pass out a cupcake to each child.

You will need:

  • cupcakes or any other baked item made from a box mix
  • napkins

3 Branches of Government
3 Branches of Government

3 Branches of Government: Constitution Tree

5. The cake mix told me to add 3 ingredients to the cake mix: water, oil, & eggs. The Constitution told our country that we need 3 "ingredients" or branches to make up our government. [Show a "Constitution Tree."] The 3 branches are: legislative, executive, & judicial. Repeat those 3 branches after me: legislative, executive, & judicial.

You will need:

  • a "Constitution Tree" showing a tree with 3 branches - I used a paper bag, construction paper, & pictures of the Capitol, White House, & Supreme Court. I think a drawing would have been sufficient.

Legislative Branch

6. The first branch is the Legislative branch, which makes the laws. (Repeat: What does the Legislative branch do? It makes laws.) The legislative branch is made of the House of Representatives and Senate. They meet in the Capitol. [Show a picture of the Capitol.] Read House Mouse, Senate Mouse by Peter W. Barnes.

You will need:

  • a picture of the Capitol (from a book or online)
  • House Mouse, Senate Mouse by Peter W. Barnes or other book on the legislative branch


House Mouse, Senate Mouse (Little Patriot Press)
House Mouse, Senate Mouse (Little Patriot Press)

This is a simple story that uses mice as characters to show how the government works. In this book mice children send a letter to Washington suggesting a law & the story follows the process of how the bill is passed.

 
"Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the U. S. Supreme Court" by Peter W. Barnes and "Woodrow, the White House Mouse" by Peter W. Barnes
"Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the U. S. Supreme Court" by Peter W. Barnes and "Woodrow, the White House Mouse" by Peter W. Barnes

Executive & Judicial Branches

7. The second branch is executive branch. [Point to the 2nd branch on the Constitution Tree.]

  • The legislative branch makes the laws. Next the Founding Fathers wanted to make the "police officers" who carried out those laws & made sure they are getting followed. A fancy word for that is "execute." The executive branch executes, or carries out, the laws & makes sure they get followed.
  • The President is the head of the executive branch. Does anyone know who our President is? [at the time of me writing it is Donald Trump] Does anyone know where the President lives? (White House) Show a picture of the White House.
  • Let's find out some of what the President, head of the executive branch, does. Summarize Woodrow, the White House Mouse by Peter W. Barnes while flipping through the pages.

You will need:

  • Constitution Tree
  • a picture of the White House (from a book or online)
  • Woodrow, the White House Mouse by Peter W. Barnes or other book on the executive branch

8. The third branch is judicial branch. [Point to the 3rd branch on the Constitution Tree.]

  • The legislative branch makes the laws. The executive branch executes, or carries out, the laws & makes sure they get followed. The judicial branch looks at the laws & judges to make sure they're fair.
  • The Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch. They meet in the Supreme Court building. [Show a picture of that.]
  • Let's find out what the judicial branch does. Summarize Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the U. S. Supreme Court by Peter W. Barnes while flipping through the pages.

You will need:

  • Constitution Tree
  • a picture of the Supreme Court (from a book or online)
  • Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the U. S. Supreme Court by Peter W. Barnes or other book on the judicial branch

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Three Branches of Government Flip BookFront Page (flaps to flip)Bottom Page
Three Branches of Government Flip Book
Three Branches of Government Flip Book
Front Page (flaps to flip)
Front Page (flaps to flip)
Bottom Page
Bottom Page

3 Branches of Government Flip Book, Prayer, & Review

11. Create a 3 Branches of Government Flipbook.

  • Have students cut out the first page that says, "3 Branches of Government" & then cut the dotted lines to make the flaps. They will paste the top bar to the piece of blank paper.
  • Cut out the strips on the 2nd sheet that explain each branch & paste those under the flaps.
  • On top of the flaps paste pictures of the current President, Vice President, your local U.S. Senator, your local representative (U.S. House of Representative), & current Supreme Court justices
  • If children finish early, they can color the paper.
  • Have children place these in their history binders.

You will need per child:

  • a sheet of blank paper punched with 3 hole punch
  • a copy of the first 2 main pages of this flipbook (You will need to join teacherspayteachers .com, which is free to join, to print off this free flipbook.)
  • pictures of the current President, Vice President, your local U.S. Senator, your local representative (U.S. House of Representative), & current Supreme Court justices - all sized so that they will fit on the flaps & cut out
  • Student supplies: scissors, glue sticks, & crayons

12. Allow volunteers to pray for each branch & government leader by name.

13. Review: What do we call the "recipe" for our government? (Constitution) How many "ingredients" or branches are there? (3) Can you name 1? (legislative, executive, judicial) What does the legislative branch do? (makes laws) What does the executive branch do? (executes/enforces/carries out the laws) What does the judicial branch do? (judges the laws) Let's sing the Preamble to the Constitution one more time.

14. Assign next week's student biography on George Washington.

A Book to Read Each Day

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father (Step into Reading) by Monica Kulling - Book images are from amazon .com.The Story Of The White House (Blue Ribbon Book) by Kate Waters My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Edward M. KennedyIf I Were President by Catherine StierSonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx by Jonah Winter Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President by Charlotte PenceI Dissent by Debbie Levy
Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father (Step into Reading) by Monica Kulling - Book images are from amazon .com.
Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father (Step into Reading) by Monica Kulling - Book images are from amazon .com.
The Story Of The White House (Blue Ribbon Book) by Kate Waters
The Story Of The White House (Blue Ribbon Book) by Kate Waters
My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Edward M. Kennedy
My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Edward M. Kennedy
If I Were President by Catherine Stier
If I Were President by Catherine Stier
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx by Jonah Winter
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx by Jonah Winter
Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President by Charlotte Pence
Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President by Charlotte Pence
I Dissent by Debbie Levy
I Dissent by Debbie Levy

In addition to the above 3 books used in this lessons, these were our other favorite books:

  • Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father (Step into Reading) by Monica Kulling
  • The Story Of The White House (Blue Ribbon Book) by Kate Waters
  • My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Edward M. Kennedy
  • If I Were President by Catherine Stier
  • Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx by Jonah Winter
  • Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President by Charlotte Pence
  • I Dissent by Debbie Levy

SchoolHouse Rock Three Ring Government

History Quip

"I don't make jokes.

I just watch the government

and report the facts."

-Will Rogers

(American humorist & entertainer)

Looking for all of my American History Lessons?

(My middle school level

American History lessons can be found at https://hubpages.com/education/constitution-lesson-plans-for-8th-grade-american-history .)

© 2018 Shannon

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    • iijuan12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon 

      8 months ago from Florida

      Thank you! Yes, the children loved that one too!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      8 months ago from UK

      Another great history lesson. I especially liked the cupcake illustration.

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