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Learn About the Three Branches of Government for Kids

Updated on May 7, 2013

The United States of America has 3 branches of government. They are:

  • The Legislative Branch
  • The Executive Branch
  • The Judicial Branch

Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch is called Congress. This branch makes laws for the country. Congress has two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Voters in each state elect people to serve in Congress. Congress writes, discusses and votes for or against laws.

You may be wondering what a law actually is. In your house, you probably have rules that you must follow. Maybe you have to put your plate in the sink after dinner. You must brush your teeth before you go to bed. You can’t hit your brother or sister even if they make you angry. Rules are important in a home. Laws are like rules for a whole country.

A lot of the laws in Congress relate to taxes and spending. Everyone must pay money called a tax that the government uses to pay for schools, libraries, police officers, soldiers, roads, bridges and many more things. Congress decides how much people must pay in taxes and what to spend it on.

Members of the House of Representatives serve two year terms. Each member represents what is called a district. Each state has many districts. They have to be reelected by the people in their district if they want another term.

Senators serve six year terms. There are two senators from each state. Senators must also be reelected if they want to continue serving in the Senate.

Congress meets in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Congress meets in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States
Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States

Executive Branch

The president is the head of the Executive Branch. The president is called the Chief Executive. A candidate for the presidency must be at least 35 years old, a natural-born U.S. citizen, and have lived in the United States for 14 years.

The United States has federal, state and local government. The federal government is responsible for the whole country. The president is the manager of the federal government. The president ensures that the laws passed by Congress are enforced and obeyed. They pledge to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The Executive Branch includes the Cabinet. The Cabinet advises the President. The Cabinet includes the Vice President, the heads of various departments, and other people chosen by the President. The Cabinet meets regularly to discuss matters that affect the country.

The President plays an important role in making the nation’s laws. They must approve the laws that Congress makes. When Congress passes a bill, they send it to the President. If the President agrees with the law, they will sign it and the law will go into effect. If the President doesn’t agree with the bill, they can refuse to sign it. This is called a veto.

The president is limited to serving 2 four year terms. They must run for re-election to serve a second term.

Judicial Branch

The United States Constitution is a complicated document. Courts are needed to interpret or figure out its meaning. The Judicial Branch is responsible for doing this.

The Supreme Court is the most important court in the Judicial Branch. All other courts in the United States must follow the decisions made by the justices of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can also decide whether federal, state, and local governments are following the law. It can decide if laws passed by Congress or a president's actions are constitutional or not.

If someone is unhappy about a ruling in a lower court, they can make an appeal to a higher court. Higher courts can overturn the rulings or judgments of lower courts. Overturn means they say the ruling of a lower court was wrong. The highest court of all is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court only accepts a small number of the appeals made to it. Any judgments from this court are final.

Supreme Court Justices
Supreme Court Justices

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    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      A subject dear to my heart - Teaching kids about our society. Well don and to the point, worded so that a child can get it. You are a good writer.

    • JoanCA profile image
      Author

      JoanCA 4 years ago

      Thanks rfmoran. It's so hard to find good basic resources on government for younger kids.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent tutorial Hub for children and adults. Too many people in general have little knowledge of how our government really works. Great job, Joan.

    • JoanCA profile image
      Author

      JoanCA 4 years ago

      Thanks HSchneider.

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