Congress and the Legislative Branch: Lesson Plans & Resources

This Share My Lesson collection provides free lesson plans and resources to support teachers in educating students about the legislative branch of Congress. Students will learn about the powers of Congress and state legislatures, how those powers have been used or changed over time, and what issues face Congress today.

Grades K-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

Congress in a Flash! (Lesson Plan)

Need to teach the legislative branch in a hurry? This lesson is designed to cover the basics in a single class period. Students learn what Congress is, what the Constitution says about the legislative branch, and how a bill becomes law. They analyze some actual language from the Constitution, compare the House and the Senate, and simulate the lawmaking process by reconciling two versions of the same fictional bill. This lesson is one in a series entitled “The Legislative Branch.”

Grades 6, 7, 8
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

The Powers of the President

In this lesson, students will view video clips to learn about the powers of the president and how they have grown and been used throughout our history. Students will use these video clips to respond to a writing prompt about the balance of powers between the three branches.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

Checks and Balances

This lesson explore the principle of checks and balances by providing video clips with examples and explanations. As they view these real-world examples, students will complete a graphic organizer and use it to evaluate how effective our system of checks and balances is at limiting government.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

The Constitutional Convention: Composition of Congress

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students at the Constitutional Convention and asks them to construct a legislative branch for a proposed new government. Should there be one branch or two? Should each state get an equal voice in the legislative branch? By discussing and debating the various options, they will gain a deeper understanding of the choices the framers faced and why they opted for particular structures, ones we live with today.

The YLI E-Congress Legislative Simulation

Looking for an interactive way to teach about the legislative branch? The Youth Leadership Initiative’s E-Congress program allows students to learn about Congress by writing original legislation and following it through the lawmaking process. Registration is required.

Grades 6, 8, 9-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Editorial Cartoons

How Our Laws Are Made

A text-based guide to the workings of Congress and the Federal lawmaking process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through its publication as a statute. As the majority of laws originate in the House of Representatives, the publication focuses principally on that body. This guide enables readers to gain a greater understanding of the Federal legislative process and its role as one of the foundations of the United States of America’s representative system of government.

Grades 5, 6-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Books