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Identifying the three branches of Virginia government and the functions of each.



  • In this lesson, students will learn the structure and responsibility of Virginia government.

  • Before teaching this lesson, make a large tree with three branches and make leaves or label cards containing the names and functions of each branch of government (legislative, executive, and judicial). Create a worksheet with a tree on it. Students will add leaves of essential knowledge to their trees during the session while the teacher adds information to the class size tree.

  • Define government as being the organization through which political authority is exercised. Have students recall what they know about the first form of government in Virginia (House of Burgesses and General Assembly of Virginia). Ask which exists today (Virginia General Assembly).

  • Display classroom tree and leaves, and explain each branch and its function. As you explain, move the leaf to the correct branch. Students will follow.

  • Complete the first leaf with the following information: The General Assembly is the legislative branch of Virginia government that makes state laws. It is divided into two parts: the Senate and the House of Delegates.

  • Complete the next leaf with the following information: The governor heads the executive branch of state government. The executive branch makes sure that state laws are carried out.

  • Complete the last leaf with the following information: The judicial branch is the state’s court system. The judicial branch decides cases about people accused of breaking the law and whether or not a law agrees with Virginia’s Constitution.
  • Optional activity: View Virginia Pathways, Episode 3, Virginia Government.

  • Optional activity: Remove all leaves from the branches of the classroom tree. Divide the class into three to six groups. Time each group as they sort the leaves to the correct branches of the tree.

  • Create a flip chart (waterfall booklet) of the branches of Virginia government. On one side write the name of the branch of government and on the flip side describe the duties of the branch as well as the people who hold an office in that branch.

  • Draw conclusions from the official Web site of the General Assembly, which includes activities, printables and publications, teacher resources, links of interest, and student programs:

  • Make connections about the role of government in Virginia by researching this Web site:

  • Provide additional background information about the branches of government from Ben's Guide to U.S. Government.



  • http://virginiageneralassembly.gov
    This is the official Web site of the General Assembly, which includes activities, printables and publications, teacher resources, links of interest, and student programs. More resources are available at the Capitol Classroom web pages: http://capclass.virginiageneralassembly.gov/.

  • http://kids.clerk.house.gov/
    This Web site provides students with valuable legislative and historical information about the U.S. House of Representatives and the Office of the Clerk. The site's content is geared toward middle school-aged students (8-13 years old).

Produced by Prince William County Public Schools in collaboration with
the Virginia Department of Education. All rights reserved. Filnet Inc.
Updated on August 11, 2008.