One of the main strengths of our form of government, as laid out in the Constitution, is the system of Checks and Balances which protect against government over-reaching by spreading out power among three disparate and independent branches. Wisely, our founding fathers established a system of government that not only protects us against possible tyranny by a single official but also against tyranny of the majority. The ability of one branch to “check” an abuse of power by another branch has, for the most part, kept Americans free from runaway governmental abuse and oppression.
Understanding how the system of Checks and Balances works is essential to becoming an informed citizen of our society. However, simple rote memorization of the different powers of the three branches of government from a textbook is ineffective in achieving this goal. In this activity, students will apply the concepts of Checks and Balances to hypothetical situations to help them gain a better understanding of how this fundamental system works through repetition and practice.
These materials – all of which have been battle-tested in the crucible of my own 8th grade classroom - include:
* a 2 page, 40 question in-class worksheet;
* a 20 question homework sheet;
* a 6 page Teacher’s Guide which provides step-by-step instructions how to use all of the materials;
An Answer key is included in the Teacher’s Guide. All materials are provided as word documents and PDFs in one zip file.
This activity is part of a complete and comprehensive unit
on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as part of a complete mini-unit
solely on Checks and Balances.
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