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8th Grade

Social Studies
The U.S. Constitution and The Three Branches of U.S. Government


Students will understand how the content of the United States Constitution and the three branches enable the U.S. Government to function.


The constitution of the United States divides the powers of the federal government into three separate branches, the Legislature, Executive and Judicial branches. 

Legislative LinksExecutive LinksJudicial LinksConstitution Links

The Legislative branch of the federal government is responsible for making the nation's laws.  Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives share the responsibility of balancing the needs of constituents with those of the nation.

 The President is head of the Executive branch of government, which is responsible for enforcing laws.  The President provides leadership by setting goals and developing policies.

The Judicial branch of the federal government interprets the Constitution and decides if federal laws are protecting the rights of citizens.  The Supreme Court as the final court of appeals for both the state and federal court systems.



You and your partner will research the web sites given below to learn about the three branches of government. Together, you will need to answer ALL of the following questions for the U.S. Constitution and each branch of government. Each question should be answered with approximately 2-3 sentences, and credit all online references using Citation Maker. As always, check spelling, grammar, and make sure your names are on the top of all pages.

NOTE: Plagiarism is when you copy other people's work instead of writing your own ideas in your own words. Rewording someone else's words is still plagiarism! If you have any questions, ASK!!! It is better to know and be prepared! See Copyright issues in the classroom for more information

Create this document in Word. Save in your Documents folder.

The US Constitution

  1. What is the the Constitution?
  2. What are the roles and functions of the three branches of government?
  3. How do separation of powers and checks and balances affect the U.S. Government?
    (Review the graphic Checks and Balances)
  4. What are the rights, liberties, and responsibilities of U.S. citizens?
  5. How is the Constitution a living document?

Legislative Branch

  1. Identify the general responsibilities of law makers. 
  2. Compare the specific responsibilities of and requirements for members of Congress.
  3. Distinguish between delegated and implied powers of Congress.
  4. Describe how a bill becomes a law?

Executive Branch

  1. Identify the qualifications of the Presidency.
  2. Identify the roles and responsibilities of the President.
  3. Describe the organization of the executive branch of government
  4. Compare points of view on presidential power.

Judicial Branch

  1. Describe the functions of our federal court system.
  2. Explain the difference between a civil case and a criminal case. Find examples of each.
  3. Explain the role and function of the Supreme Court
  4. Identify the Justices of the Supreme Court, the year they were appointed and by what President.


Links and Resources


  1. The Bill of Rights
  2. The Constitution of the United States
  3. The Declaration of Independence

Legislative Branch

  1. Kids in the House - Office of the Clerk
  2. The U.S. House of Representatives
  3. The U.S. Legislative Branch
  4. The United States Senate

Executive Branch

  1. Federal Government - Executive Branch
  2. Presidents of the U.S.
  3. Presidents of the United States (POTUS)
  4. U.S. Presidents Lists
  5. White House for Kids

Judicial Branch

  1. Justice for Kids & Youth
  2. United States Federal Courts
  3. Supreme Court Justices of the United States
  4. U.S. Supreme Court Judges
  5. U.S. Supreme Court Official Site

United States Government

  1. AskGovernment
  2. Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids- great site!
  3. Congress for Kids
  4. FactFinder Kids Corner - from the U.S. Census Bureau
  5. PBS Kids Democracy Project
  7. U.S. National Debt Clock


Vocabulary Words

US Constitution vocabulary words. It is important that the student recognize and understand these words for your writing assignment.

3/5 Compromise: Slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a person when figuring a state's population.
Articles of Confederation: The first written government of America. It was weak and was replaced with the Constitution.
Bill of Rights: The first 10 Amendments of the Constitution.
Checks and Balances: A system of limits imposed by the Constitution of the United States on all branches of a government by vesting in each branch the right to amend or void those acts of another that fall within its jurisdiction.
Compromise: Settlement of a dispute whereby each side gives up part of what it demands (avoids a violent conflict).
Connecticut Plan: The Congress will have 2 houses with equal representation in the Senate and representation based on population in the House of Representatives.
Economic: The study of how people get what they need - money, banks, tariffs.
Elastic Clause : Part of Article I of the Constitution where it says Congress can make all laws necessary and proper.
Federal Powers: Powers given to the national government instead of the state governments.
Political : The study of power, government and political parties.
Separation of Powers: Splitting the authority of the national government into 3 separate parts: executive, judicial and legislative.
The New Jersey Plan: States would have equal representation in congress.
Veto: The power of the executive to reject a law.
Virginia Plan: States would be represented in Congress based on population.