Congress for Kids

IntroductionDelegates to the Constitutional ConventionThe Work BeginsWriting the ConstitutionThe Great CompromiseSigning the ConstitutionRatifying the ConstitutionBill of RightsPowers of the Federal GovernmentChecks and BalancesAmendmentsWomen – The Right to Vote

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Our government has three branches. Imagine a triangle. At the top is the Executive Branch. The two bottom corners are the Judicial Branch and the Legislative Branch also called Congress. Each part of the government is connected to the other. Each has its own responsibilities and powers. A system of checks and balances prevents one branch from gaining too much power. So how does this all work?

How have the three branches of government changed over time and what are their present day challenges?

The Duties of the Three Branches of Government

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention also wanted to divide powerwithinthe federal government. They did not want these powers to be controlled by just one man or one group. The delegates were afraid that if a small group received too much power, the United States would wind up under the rule of another dictator or tyrant.

To avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny, the group divided the new government into three parts, or branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch.

Headed by the president. The president carries out federal laws and recommends new ones, directs national defense and foreign policy, and performs ceremonial duties. Powers include directing government, commanding the Armed Forces, dealing with international powers, acting as chief law enforcement officer, and vetoing laws.

Headed by Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. The main task of these two bodies is to make the laws. Its powers include passing laws, originating spending bills (House), impeaching officials (Senate), and approving treaties (Senate).

Headed by the Supreme Court. Its powers include interpreting the Constitution, reviewing laws, and deciding cases involving states rights.

Most of the time the House and the Senate each meet in their own chamber in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. However, every once in a while, they must meet together (joint session). For example, a joint session is needed to count the electoral votes in presidential elections. Joint sessions are held in the House chamber.

This is a social studies/technology project that requires you to research the major responsibilities of each of the three branches of the US government.

After learning about the three branches of government, use inspiration to demonstrate your knowledge and create an informational Web site.

You will need to include and show separation of the three branches of government. You need to include the leaders, responsibilities, and the checks and balances between the branches. It is also suggested that you color code or somehow designate a difference between the branches so your Web site is easy to read.

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