Lesson 4: How Does Our Government Work?
- Students will identify the three branches of the federal government.
- Students will identify the officials who lead the three branches.
- Students will describe how the Constitution was written.
- Students will understand the purpose of the Constitution.
Vocabulary and Definitions:
constitution: the document that sets up a system of fundamental principles according to which a nation, state, corporation, etc., is governed.
Founding Fathers: the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787
Research the three branches of your local and state government.
- Ask the students if they know what the U.S. Constitution is. If they do, have one of them explain what it is. If not, explain what it is briefly.
- Show students the image of the Constitutional Convention. Then, pose the question:
- What do you notice in this picture? (Answers may vary. Possibilities include: all men, old-fashioned clothes, white wigs, George Washington holding papers, etc.)
- Explain that after the Revolutionary War, the new United States didn’t have a strong government. The government during and after the revolution was based on “The Articles of Confederation.” This was a government with powerful state governments but no strong central leader.
- Review the importance of leaders in our country with the students.
- Explain to the students that there was a group of men called the Founding Fathers who were the leaders of the colonies. These men met to organize a new U.S. government. They wrote down all of the rules and requirements to establish the government, and they called it the Constitution of the United States.
- Using the graphic organizer, invite students to read the articles “Government,” “Local Government,” “Three Branches of Government,” “State Government,” and “Structure of Government.”
First and Second Grade:
- Give each student a piece of brown construction paper.
- Instruct the students to draw a tree with three separate branches.
- Give each student a piece of green construction paper. Ask them to cut out three leaves from the paper and label them “executive branch: president,” “legislative branch: Congress (Senate and House of Representatives),” and “judicial branch: Supreme Court.”
- Instruct the students to glue the three leaves on the branches of their trees.
- Review what each branch is and who is elected or appointed to each branch.
- Show students the image of the three branches of government with photos and boxes.
- Using the image, have the students complete the 3 Branches of Government graphic organizer by cutting out the leaves and gluing them in the appropriate boxes.
First and Second Grade:
Look at the following sentences. Write “Yes” if the sentence is correct, and write “No” if the sentence is incorrect.
- There are three branches of government. (Yes)
- The rules for the government are outlined in the Constitution. (Yes)
- The president is part of the judicial branch. (No)
List the three branches of government and the leader of each branch.
Three Branches of Government (Tree):
Three Branches of Government (Buildings):
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