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3 Branches of the Government: Social Studies - Grade 3

Subject: Social Studies

Grade: 3

Lesson Objective: Students should be able to name and identify the three branches of American government, the people involved in each of them, and the functions of each branch.

Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.2 - Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.




  • Do you know how the U.S. government is divided? (Wait for students to answer.)

After students answer, pass the colored paper to them. Make sure each student has all three colors. Tell them that they will be learning about the three branches of the government and their functions. Before you start the lesson, begin the activity by asking students to write "Judicial branch" on the red sheet, "Legislative branch" on the blue sheet, and "Executive branch" on the white sheet.



  • In our game, you will have to raise the correct sheet of paper to answer some questions. But first, let's talk about why the branches exist and the functions of each one of them!
  • The main purpose of the three branches of the government is to make sure no one abuses power. Therefore, each of the branches limits the exercise of the power of the other branches. Do all of you understand that? (See if students have any doubts.)
  • The Legislative branch makes laws. It can also declare wars and confirm that the person who won the presidential election will be president. It consists of the Congress, formed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. (As students are very young, it doesn't make a lot of sense to get into numbers. However, they may ask how many people are in each one of the chambers). 
  • The Judicial branch decides if laws are constitutional or follow our Constitution. It consists of the federal courts. One of them is the highest court of the country, the Supreme Court!
  • Last but not least, we have the Executive branch! Do you know who the head of this branch is? (Wait for students to answer.)
  • The person who runs the executive branch is the president! Can you name our president now? 
  • U.S. citizens vote for a new president every four years. Sometimes a president will win a second election. If they do, they will serve a second term. We can only elect the same president twice in a row. The president's main job is to sign, veto—veto means to reject a law—and execute laws, as well as appoint federal judges!
  • Do any of you have any questions? (Check if anyone has doubts about the three branches of government.)
  • Now, let's move on to the game! (You must have some questions ready to ask the students. They should be about the branches' functions, and the answer must be one of the three branches.)
  • Remember: raise the sheet of paper that corresponds to the government branch you think is the answer to the question. (Go on and answer the questions, let the students play, and move on to the final part of the lesson.)


  • Let's see if all of you paid attention to what we talked about today. How many branches of the government are there? (Wait for the answer.)
  • Why do the three branches of the government exist? (See if students answer something related to the system of checks and balances.) 
  • What does the Legislative branch do? (Let students answer, and you may add a follow-up question about the chambers of Congress.)
  • What about the purpose of the Judicial branch? (Wait for the answer.)
  • Who runs the Executive branch, and for how many years? (See if they respond correctly.)
  • Does anyone have any questions?


Written by Maria Tozello

Education World Contributor

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