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Three Branches of Government on Bookmarks

What symbols or logos would you use to represent the three branches of the U.S. government? Students mark important passages in their reading with inventive logos.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Share the books Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz and The Words We Live By by Linda Monk to enlighten students about the history and content of the U.S. Constitution. Allow students, working in small groups, to re-visit these books as needed.
    2. Provide groups with class time to investigate additional information about each branch of the U.S. government. Ask students what symbols they would use to represent the legislative, judicial, and executive branches.
    3. Students will create bookmarks to represent each branch of the U.S. government. Students will cut three rectangles from file folders, one for each branch. Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils and/or Washable Fine Line Markers can be used to create symbols on each bookmark. For the Legislative Branch, students may make multicolored steps representing the steps necessary for the legislative branch to pass a bill. Consider cutting around the steps to make interesting edges. What logo will represent the Legislative Branch? Students select a logo and include it on this bookmark.
    4. On the second bookmark, students use bright colors to design an eye-catching representation of the President and the Executive Branch of the government. Choose a logo for this branch such as a star, Air Force One, or the White House.
    5. On the third bookmark, students will represent the Judicial Branch. Consider arranging nine bold circles to symbolize the nine justices of the Supreme Court. What logo will be included on this bookmark?
    6. Students punch a hole through each of the bookmarks. Tie colorful ribbon or yarn through the holes. Share bookmarks as gifts, trade them with friends, or use them to mark important information or place in reading books.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

    SS: Give examples of the role of institutions in furthering both continuity and change.

    SS: Explain the purpose of government.

    SS: Give examples of how government does or does not provide for the needs and wants of people, establish order and security, and manage conflict.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Employ organizational structures and analyze what makes them effective or not effective in the communication of ideas.

    VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Branches of Government (Government in Action!) by John Hamilton; A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro; Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz; How the U.S. Government Works by Syl Sobel; The Everything American Government Book: From the Constitution to Present-Day Elections, All You Need to Understand Our Democratic System by Nick Ragone

    Working in small groups, students brainstorm current issues that are deemed important, such as environmental sustainability, international relations, etc. Charge the group with one issue that is important enough to present to a local elected representative. The group will compose a letter to the representative expressing the group's concerns about the issue.

    Students investigate the process of presenting a bill to a house of Congress and the steps leading to the bill becoming a law. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates.

    Encourage students to use 5" x 8" index cards to create a game focused on the three branches of U.S. government. Students post a question on the front of an index card and include an illustration focused on a branch of government. For example, an illustration of the Capital dome might accompany a question about which house of Congress is charged with declaring war on U.S. enemies. Answer to questions should be posted on the back of the index cards. Shuffle the deck and play!

    Students research the writing of the U.S. Constitution. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention pondered several different possibilities for a new government in 1787. What were these and how did the delegates arrive at the form of government that leads the U.S. today?


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