Branches of Government

By Rona Shaw on May 29, 2014

This lesson is a review of the three branches of government in preparation for a test on Checks and Balances.


  1. Identify the powers delegated to the three brances of government
  2. Illustrate how the sustem of checks and balances works
  3. Determine how the checks and balances system is reflected in the current democratic system

This lesson also helps students develop their:

  • Ability to describe the  three branches of US government
  • Ability to complete a flow chart


This lesson is adapted from a submission by Demi Thomas, Teaneck Community Charter School, NJ


  • Ability to describe the  three branches of US government
  • Ability to complete a flow chart


  1. Distribute blank chart 
  2. Students label chart and complete each section:   

hand-drawn chart for checks and balances

  1. When students are ready, whole class discussion of completed charts
  2. Students play 'Where Do I Belong?' by taking teacher distributed strips of paper with powers of government written on them and moving to the appropriately labeled section of the room. Once in place, each student verbally indicates what her power, according to the strip of paper held. This will be repeated several times, with students receiving different power strips each time and verbally describing the power given. Terms include: proposes laws, administer the law, commands the armed forces, appoint ambassadors and other officials, conducts foreign policy, makes treaties, writes laws, confirm President's appointments, approve treaties, grant money, declare war, impeach President, interprets the Constitution and other laws, review lower court decisions, declare laws unconstitutional, approve appointments, override veto, veto laws,declares actions non constitutional 



  • If available, use a Smartboard for student directed completion of chart; if student who is visually impaired has an iPad, s/he can access the Smartboard chart
  • Place braille or large print labels on a tray with sides so that all are contained within a given area (lack of or loss of vision may be lost if not within defined parameters)
  • Student who is visually impaired, if needed, is assigned a partner to walk to the designated areas of the room
  • All students can work in pairs 

Domain ELA:

Reading Literacy in History/Social Studies: Reading Informational Text

ELA Standard:

  • 6-8.RH.7 - Integration of Knowledge and Ideas - Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
  • 6-8.RH.10 - Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity - By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

branches of power collage