Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Branches of Government Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Branches of Government, and supports the standard of analyzing the organizational structure (legislative, executive, judicial branches) and powers of the federal government. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Ask students:

  • How are decisions made in your school or classroom? 
  • How can school community leaders make decisions that are fair for everyone, or that consider everyone’s interests?


  • Read the description on the Branches of Government topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the Related Reading articles. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: ENGAGE 

Students express what they learned about the branches of government while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Create video journal from the pov of the President, a Supreme Court justice, or a member of congress. Explain your responsibilities in the government and how you interact with other branches. (Essential Literacy Skill: Determine central ideas)
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map identifying and explaining the role of each branch of government, and the ways they interact with one another. (Essential Literacy Skill: Summarize key details)
  • Creative Coding: Code a learning game challenging players to sort government-related vocabulary terms into self-selected categories. (Essential Literacy Skill: Acquire and use domain specific words and phrases)
  • Primary Source Activity: Read and analyze an excerpt from The Federalist Papers. (Essential Literacy Skill: Draw evidence to support reflection)


Apply: Students take the Branches of Government Challenge, applying essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Branches of Government Quiz


Branches of Power: Challenge students to apply their knowledge of checks and balances to run all three branches of the U.S. government in this interactive game.

LawCraft: Students draft a bill and follow it through the law-making process as a member of the U.S. Congress in this game.

U.S. Government Unit: Continue to build understanding around functions of the U.S. government with more BrainPOP topics.

Additional Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments