Checks and Balances Lesson Plan

US History Lesson Plans

Topic Overview:

In the memories of many American shortly after the Revolution was the rule of King George III of England, who ruled almost absolutely.  American reformers sought to create a new kind of government in which power was divided equally among different branches, so that no one person could wield absolute power.  One idea they incorporated was that of the Enlightened French philosopher Montesquieu, who said that power should be separated between executive, legislative, and judiciary branches.  Each branch would have independent powers, but would be limited by the other branches.

Activity Overview:

In this apprenticeship simulation students will assume roles of government officials to make laws.  They will act as Senators and Representatives to introduce bills on which to debate and vote.  Students will be broken into committees to vote on bills, then move back to the Senate or the House of Representatives.  They will see the steps required for a bill to become a law.  One student will act as the President to pass or veto bills.  After a veto the students in the House and Senate will try to override the President.  Finally one law will go to the Supreme Court to determine if it is constitutional.