Lesson on Check and Balances of government for kids


Today’s lesson touches ways to teach about the checks and balances of government to elementary aged kids. So here is a draft of the lesson I hope to present on Wednesday for the Utah Patriot Camp 2012. I want to crate activities for the kids that might help them compare govern to their own lives. I’ll see if this works.

Three branches of government so that one branch does not become too powerful over the others. James Madison was involved in setting up the government and saw how checks and balances could work better with an elected president instead of a King.

When people moved to America and created a new nation they wanted a say how their government was run. James Madison and other founding fathers came up with a government divided into three sections.

Legislative Executive , and

The President represents the Executive Branch –
• President: select a boy and girl to put on crowns and sit before the class.
Have the class partition the king for their favorite dessert. King says “No!” to all. You’re going to all have pickle cake each night for a week.
• The Executive at home is Dad and Mom. (Mom can I have some ice cream? Dad can I got to the movies with my best friend? Just like mom and dad law down the rules of the house. The president’s job is to make sure the rules and laws of the country are obeyed.
• President elected compared to a king who just become king because he was a son of a king. And he told everyone else what to do.

Congress: (has congressman and senators)
• The founding fathers wanted all the people to be America to be treated fairly. The big states thought “hey we’re big states we should have more say.” The smaller states, with less people in them said “that’s not fair we want to have the same kind of vote as you do.”
• Ask different kids where their grandparents live. As they name off a different state give that child two pennies. These two pennies are you state senators. They have the responsibility to do what you want. We elect senators every six years.
Divide kids into four states CA (53), NY (29) UT (4) WY (1)
• Have students divided up into groups by their favorite dessert. Pie one area, cake, cookies another. Pretend we’re going to have a big party at the end of the week. We’re going to have games, all kinds of food, even petting animals and a clown. But the clown is very expensive. So your parents say there can only be one dessert for everybody. Everyone at the party wants to decide what deserts to have and there is only one desert. You want your desert to win.
• Have a child stand up and talk about why their desert is best. Do others in the group agree? Elect that person to represent you.
Have the two biggest dessert kids

Judicial Branch – The judicial power of the United States is vested in the Supreme Court and the federal courts. Their job is to interpret and apply US laws through cases brought before them. Another important power of the Supreme Court is that of Judicial Review whereby they can rule laws unconstitutional.
• Have class discuss what can’t be done playing basketball. Set three students aside who play basked ball. They are the judges decide what are the rules of the game.
– can’t grab the ball from another play,
– can’t hit the ball on the way up to the basket,
– Can’t dribble it pick it up and dribble it again.
Judges determine if the law is obeyed by what is written in the constitution.

How they work together:

The president may veto a law passed by Congress.
• Veto power
• Ability to call special sessions of Congress
• Can recommend legislation
• Can appeal to the people concerning legislation and more
• President recommends who would be good judges when one needs to be replaced.

Legislative Branch – This branch consists of the Congress which is responsible for making the federal laws. Congress consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives.
• The senate represents each individual state by having two senators per state. That way every state gets an equal voice no matter how many people live in the state. 50 states, * 2 = 100 senators.
• The number of people influences how many state representatives go to congress. This give people a vote my number of people. There are 435 congressmen . California has a population of 53 representatives because so many people live in the state. Utah will have 4 but because more people moved into the state we will have four. Wyoming only has 1.
• Do we want to vote because someone is nice looking? How about someone
Congress can override that veto with a vote of two-thirds of both houses.
• Has the power over the purse strings to actually fund any executive actions
• May remove the president through impeachment
• Senate approves treaties
• Senate approves presidential appointments
• Has the power over the purse strings to actually fund any executive actions
• May remove the president through impeachment
• Senate approves treaties
• Senate approves presidential appointments

• Supreme Court may check Congress by declaring a law unconstitutional.
• Creates lower courts
• May remove judges through impeachment
• Senate approves appointments of judges
• Judges, once appointed for life, are free from controls from the executive branch
• Courts can judge executive actions to be unconstitutional through the power of judicial review

Needed items for class:
– Photos: President Obama and President Bush
– Congress/Senators
– Supreme Court judges.
– Burger king crown or homemade crown,
– Toilet plunger as a scepter
– 100 pennies
– Gavel;
– Basketball
– Copy of the constitution.








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