Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use a free online game to sort  sort the three branches of government : Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Students then extend their learning by creating their own version of the game.

Students will:

  1. Explain the purpose and function of each branch of the United States government (legislative, judicial, and executive.)
  2. Sort various responsibilities according to the branch of government that oversees them.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play either the BrainPOP Branches of Government movie or the BrainPOP Jr Branches of Government movie. Older students can use the Graphic Organizer to take notes during the movie and reflect on what they learned afterward. Younger students can utilize the Word Wall and/or the Talk About It page.
  2. Project the Branches of Government game for the class to see. Explain that students will use a special system to communicate which branch of government they think is in charge of each responsibility listed. You could have students hold up one finger for the legislative branch, two fingers for the executive branch, and three fingers for the judicial branch. Or, have students make color-coded signs on index cards and hold up the name of the corresponding branch.
  3. Talk about each responsibility as a class, and after students have signaled which branch of government they think is in charge of the responsibility, invite a student volunteer to come up to the interactive whiteboard and check the answer. Each responsibility will only "stick" to the correct branch of government, so it's easy to tell which answer is correct.
  4. When all the responsibilities have been correctly sorted, invite students to create their own version of the game! In pairs or small groups, have students brainstorm several responsibilities of each branch of government, or possible scenarios that might be presented in each branch. Students can create a paper-based version of the game by writing each responsibility or scenario on an index card, or they can use tools such as PowerPoint or SMART Notebook Software to create a computer-based, interactive version.
  5. Allow each pair/group of students to trade games with another group to check the games for accuracy. Students can then trade with another group and play again. Encourage students to talk with their partners/groups about any answers they are unsure of, and use research tools to help them discover the correct branch of government.
  6. You can further assess student learning using the Branches of Government Game Quiz.

Extension Activities:

Older students may want to explore the Branches of Power Game on BrainPOP's GameUp, or the full collection of games related to the branches of power.