Copyright

Judicial Branch Activities for Kids

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The judicial branch of government is one that children may not understand as well as the executive and legislative branches. This lesson seeks to remedy this gap by providing activities to help kids understand how the judicial branch works and why it is important.

Understanding the Judicial Branch

Are you trying to help your students understand how the federal government works? You may have already taught them about the three branches of government, and students will likely be most familiar with the executive and legislative branches, since they are the ones with elected offices. But it's just as important for students to understand the judicial branch and, specifically, the workings of the Supreme Court.

When students have a good understanding of the judicial system and the Supreme Court, they understand the extent to which the Constitution remains a living and significant document, how the system of checks and balances works, and why some laws get challenged and even overturned. They also develop an understanding of what landmark pieces of legislation have altered the history of the nation. This lesson offers some activities to help students understand the judicial branch.

Activities for the Judicial Branch

Translate Article 3

In order to understand what the judicial branch is and does, students should first be familiarized with Article 3 of the Constitution, where the Supreme Court is initially established. Break your students into small groups and give each group a copy of the article. Explain that their task is to work together to 'translate' the article into colloquial and contemporary English. Walk the room and provide definitions and other guidance when necessary. When each group is finished writing, bring your class together and have them share, compare and contrast what they came up with. Then, ask them to reflect on the following questions:

  • Why was the Supreme Court established?
  • What is the main purpose of the Supreme Court?
  • What is the relationship between the judicial branch and the executive and legislative branches?

Illustrate a Key Case

This activity is great for students who benefit from working visually or via art. Students should work in small groups. Assign each group a Supreme Court case that is typically considered a landmark decision. For instance, students can work with Miranda v. Arizona, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, Brown v. Board of Education, or Roe v. Wade, among others. The first task of the group is to learn as much as they can about the case they have been assigned. They should understand:

  • The premise of the case
  • The perspectives of both sides of the argument
  • How the case was resolved by the Court
  • Social and political implications of the decision

Then, students should create a comic strip or illustration depicting what they consider the most important aspects of the case they have learned about. Once they are finished, have a Supreme Court gallery day, when students can view each other's work and ask questions of the newfound experts on each case.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support