Branch Out! Civics: Government Powers and Limits

Contributor: Elephango Editors. Lesson ID: 10193

Explore the three branches of American government. Discover the power each has and the system of checks and balances keeping those powers safe. You'll even create your own laws!


Civics, United States

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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One of the most important aspects of the United States Constitution is that it establishes the federal government's role, breaking down its responsibilities into three distinct branches.

Watch this short video to see what some Americans answered when asked to name those three branches!

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  • Did you know the answers?

The U.S. government comprises the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

  • What are the checks and balances and separation of powers between these three branches?
  • What do these terms mean?

America's three-branch federal government is unique.

  • You know what each is, but do you know what each one does?

The president, as the head of the executive branch, enforces laws, manages the military, and conducts foreign affairs.

The legislative branch comprises the House of Representatives and the Senate, known together as Congress. It creates and passes laws, controls the budget, and represents citizens' interests.

The judicial branch is led by the Supreme Court, which interprets laws, ensuring they align with the Constitution and settles legal disputes.

This separation of powers within the federal government creates a system of checks and balances among the three branches, preventing any entity from gaining excessive control and safeguarding democracy and individual rights.

Take notes as you watch the two videos below to learn more.

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Now, answer these questions in your notes.

  • What are the three branches of government?
  • Who makes up each branch of government, and what are their responsibilities and powers?
  • How is each branch of government separate in its powers from the other branches of government?
  • Why is the system known as checks and balances? Explain the system.

Continue to the Got It? section for some games!

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