The three branches of government always seem to throw students for a loop. While the names of the branches themselves are easy to get down, the responsibilities and controls of each branch can be tough for students of all ages to remember – especially when, as a teacher, you have limited time in your curriculum to spend.
In this post, I am sharing my three favorite ways to teach the branches of government. These activities have saved me time and helped my students retain the information.
1. Listen to a Podcast
The internet is great for many things. One of them is helping students take charge of their own learning. By using podcasts in the classroom, students can flex their listening and comprehension skills. What I love about using podcasts when teaching the branches of government is that it doesn’t take a lot of time, and yet students gain a ton of valuable information.
As students listen to a podcast, have them take notes. Then, have them create a summary or one-pager of the information they learned. You can even include collaborative learning by having students share notes to make sure they caught the same key information.
Not sure where to start with podcasting? Take a look at my 3 branches of government podcast resource. In this resource, you will get access to two podcast episodes, both under five minutes. You will also get notes pages for students to use as they listen. These podcasts come as mp4 files that can easily be uploaded to your learning platform.
2. Go Cross-Curricular
It may be obvious to say, but learning about the three branches doesn’t have to happen exclusively in social studies time! You can continue to extend on students’ knowledge and even review in other content areas. A great way to do this is through reading centers or rotations.
In reading centers, give students a passage that discusses the branches of government. Students can still practice their reading skill (main idea, inference, vocabulary, etc), but specifically within the context of this passage!
Want a ready to go reading center on the three branches of government? This bundle has an article that dives into each branch of government, so you don’t have to spend time searching for a station activity. There are also ten questions for each article. This resource comes in print and digital (self-checking Google Form)!
3. Get Hands On
If you have a class that craves movement or loves to fidget, this one’s for you. Sometimes the best way to teach students is by literally putting the learning in their hands. Try teaching the three branches of government through a tactile lesson like interactive notes or creating a 3D study feature.
By giving our students a more hands-on way to learn, they may be able to absorb information better or in a new way. Additionally, these interactive activities often make for great classroom decor! I love hanging 3D projects or dodecahedrons around the room. Students will even refer to it later, which is amazing.
Not sure where to start with hands-on activities? I have a 3D Project Cube for the three branches of government. Each side of the cube has questions and space for notes about each branch of government. In the end, you will have some crafty and useful study guides!