This exploration is for kids from 10 and up, grades 5 through 12th, as the colored smilies show. You learn about the three branches of American government with your older children.
The three branches of government worksheet is a history exploration from Layers of Learning Unit 4-1 about American government. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.
The United States Constitution divides the federal government into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. It also tells exactly what roles and powers each of those branches has. The worksheet below helps visually organize the Constitutional powers of each branch for better understanding.
Step 1: Library Research
Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about American government. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about American government or the Constitution. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.
Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution
by Jean Fritz
The Constitution Made Easy
by Michael Holler
Step 2: Constitutional Three Branches of Government Worksheet
To complete the “Three Branches by the Constitution” worksheet you will need a copy of the Constitution, colored pencils and the Three Branches by the Constitution printable.
Each of the powers granted to the Federal Government are written in the boxes on the worksheet. Color code each box to show which entity of the government has the specific power mentioned. You’ll have to consult the Constitution for the answers.
To read through the whole Constitution and discuss it can take many hours. We recommend you break this up into several days.
We chose to use yellow for the House of Representatives and red for the Senate. You could also just have one color for the legislative branch. Blue shows the executive branch. Green is the judicial branch. You can choose whatever colors you like.
As you read the Constitution together, find the powers listed in it and color them according to which branch has that power. The Senate and the House of Representatives often share powers and so we divided those boxes into two parts.
If you like, you can obtain and print portraits of each of the people currently in office to paste into the boxes. Images should be about 80×100 pixels and can be re-sized with photo editing software or using Microsoft Paint.
Step 3: Show What You Know
Use the completed worksheet to teach the powers that each part of the government has to someone else, like your dad or your little brother.
Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.
Memorize the Preamble to the Constitution. We like the Schoolhouse Rock video.
If you have a chance to visit Washington D.C. stop by the National Archives where the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence are on display.
Learn more about James Madison, the man who was the driving force behind the Constitution. We love The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz.
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