Three Branches of Government Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Use this lesson plan to teach your students about the three branches of government. Engage students in a discussion of the structure of government, then allow them to apply concepts learned with a Bloom ball activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify the three branches of government
  • explain the responsibilities of each branch
  • create a model representing learned concepts using higher-level thinking


1.5 to 2 hours


  • 12 paper circles, 3-6-inches in diameter, for each group (or print out Bloom ball templates for each group)
  • Glue
  • Markers or crayons

Key Vocabulary

  • Checks and balances
  • Declaration of Independence
  • United States Constitution
  • Legislative branch
  • Executive branch
  • Judicial branch
  • Judicial review

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.8

Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.9

Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1.b

Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


  • Have students think of a group of people they know well, like their families or sports teams they play on. Ask them who makes important decisions and how these decisions are made. Have them do a three-minute flash draft to answer these questions, then have them briefly share answers among each other. Guide students toward the conclusion that governing a group can be complicated and requires a structured system. Explain that this is, in part, why the United States government has a sturdy structure made of 3 branches.
  • Show the video lesson The 3 Branches of Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial. Have students take notes using a 3-column chart to divide notes on the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
  • After the video lesson, address the following discussion questions as a class:
    • Why did the framers of the constitution create 3 branches?
    • How do 'checks and balances' help reach this goal?
    • Why was dividing powers so important to the colonists?
    • What do you notice about the representation of the framers? Which groups were missing? What impact did/does this have?
  • Check for student understanding of the three branches. Discuss similarities and differences ans well as specific responsibilities of the branches.


  • Divide students into partners, small groups, or individuals, depending on your students' needs and class size.
  • Explain that each group will create a Bloom ball. (The Bloom ball is created from 12 paper circles. Templates and instructions for Bloom balls can be found online.)
  • Each group should fill in the 12 sides of the ball with information about the three branches of government. For each of the 6 levels of Bloom's Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), the group will use two sides of the ball. For instance, two sides will be dedicated to knowledge, two sides to comprehension, and so forth.
  • Students should work to create balls that are unique and creative.
  • Circulate the room, checking for comprehension and guiding students.
  • Share when complete and hang the Bloom balls room.


  • For homework, ask students to write a first-person imaginary narrative as one of the 55 representatives who created the three branches.

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