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Lesson Plan by Lauren Martin M.Ed.

The Legislative Branch

Pixton Lesson Plan on The Legislative Branch

Make American Government come to life with comics!

Including these awesome activities:
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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map
  • Timeline
  • Poster
  • Character Map

Your students will create amazing images like these in no time!

This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings American Government to life with comics and storyboards.
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings American Government to life with comics and storyboards.
Pixton Lesson Plan on The Legislative Branch

Featured Props

The Legislative Branch

Student creations come alive with these themed objects – in addition to our library of over 3,000 props!

  • Block
    Block
  • Boat
    Boat
  • Bomb
    Bomb
  • Building
    Building
  • Desk
    Desk
  • Feather
    Feather
  • Flag
    Flag
  • Mic
    Mic
  • Money
    Money
  • Paper
    Paper
Print this Teacher Guide

Teacher Guide

The Legislative Branch

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

The American Government has three branches to make sure no one person gets too much power: The Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branch. The Legislative Branch (Congress) creates laws. The Executive Branch (The President) carries out laws. The Judicial Branch (Court System) interprets the law.

Opening Discussion

Congress is the Legislative Branch of Government made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Their role is to create laws. The House and Senate both write and vote on laws (legislation), and share the following powers:

  • Introduce, amend and make all laws necessary to enforce the Constitution.
  • Make laws for the naturalization of foreign citizens.
  • Regulate foreign and domestic commerce laws.
  • Declare war.
  • Raise and support the army, navy, military and armed forces.
  • Decide tax rates and the appropriate use of tax money.
  • Set the government budget and borrow money.
  • Coin money, state its value, and decide the punishment for counterfeiters.

The House of Representatives has 435 members. Each state has a different number of representatives based on the state’s population. Representatives are elected every two years. They must be 25 years old, have been a US citizen for at least 7 years, and live in their state. The representatives all vote for the leader of the House of Representatives, called the Speaker of the House. If something happened to the President and Vice President, The Speaker of the House would become the President. Unlike the Senate, only the House can introduce legislation specifically about revenue, or introduce misconduct charges (that can lead to Senate-led impeachment trials for federal officials, including the President).

The Senate has 100 members. Every state has 2 Senators who are elected every 6 years. They must be at least 30 years old, have been a US citizen for at least 9 years, and live in the state they represent. Unlike the House, only the Senate can confirm (or deny) presidential appointments for the Supreme Court and the Cabinet, ratify a treaty by a two-thirds vote, or try impeachment cases to find officials guilty or not guilty.

The steps to create a new law are called The Legislative Process. The first step is writing a bill. Anyone can write a bill, but a Congress member shares it with Congress. Members of both the House and Senate can introduce new legislation. Then, an expert committee reviews the bill to reject, accept, or change it. Once the committee agrees on the bill, all of Congress debates and votes on the bill. A majority of both the Senate and the House of Representatives must vote for the bill for it to pass. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate can add amendments to legislation or vote against legislation passed by the other house. After the House and Senate have both passed the bill, the President can sign the bill into law or choose to veto the bill. Congress can override the veto if two thirds vote to do so.

Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    The Senate

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    The House of Representatives

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Timeline
    The Legislative Process

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Poster (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Poster illustrating all of the powers of Congress.

  • Extension / Modification
    Character Map (Extension / Modification)

    Personify Congress as if it is a character in a story. Create a Character Map to illustrate its personality traits and relations.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Discuss the following:

  • In your opinion, why is the legislative process important and necessary?
  • Can you think of any possible downsides or obstacles facing the legislative process?
  • How would the U.S. Government be different without Congress?
  • Washington D.C. has a bigger population than many states, but it is not a state itself (it is a district), so it does not have senators or representatives in Congress. Do you think this is fair? Do you think their is a solution? Why or why not?
Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: The Legislative Branch 1 The Senate

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

The Senate has 100 members. Every state has 2 Senators who are elected every 6 years. They must be at least 30 years old, have been a US citizen for at least 9 years, and live in the state they represent. Unlike the House, only the Senate can confirm (or deny) presidential appointments for the Supreme Court and the Cabinet, ratify a treaty by a two-thirds vote, or try impeachment cases to find officials guilty or not guilty.

Instructions

Create a Mind Map or Storyboard to describe the senate members and powers:

  • Include an appropriate title for each panel.
  • Write a detailed description of the senate members.
  • Write a detailed description of the senate powers (one panel for each).
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: The Legislative Branch 2 The House of Representatives

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

The House of Representatives has 435 members. Each state has a different number of representatives based on the state’s population. Representatives are elected every two years. They must be 25 years old, have been a US citizen for at least 7 years, and live in their state. The representatives all vote for the leader of the House of Representatives, called the Speaker of the House. If something happened to the President and Vice President, The Speaker of the House would become the President. Unlike the Senate, only the House can introduce legislation specifically about revenue, or introduce misconduct charges (that can lead to Senate-led impeachment trials for federal officials, including the President).

Instructions

Create a Mind Map or Storyboard to describe the House of Representative members and powers:

  • Include an appropriate title for each panel.
  • Write a detailed description of the House of Representative members.
  • Write a detailed description of the House of Representative powers (one panel for each).
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: The Legislative Branch 3 The Legislative Process

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Timeline

Intro

The steps to create a new law are called the Legislative Process. Anyone can write a bill, but a Congress member shares it with Congress. Anyone in the House of Representatives or Senate can introduce a bill or introduce an amendment to an existing law. The first step is writing a bill. Then, an expert committee reviews the bill to reject, accept, or change it. Once the committee agrees on the bill, all of Congress debates and votes on the bill. A majority of both the Senate and the House of Representatives must vote for the bill for it to pass. Once both the Senate and House of Representatives separately pass the bill, the President can sign the bill into law or choose to veto the bill. Congress can override the veto if two thirds vote to do so.

Instructions

Create a Storyboard or Timeline to describe the Legislative Process:

  • Include an appropriate title for each panel (one for each step of the process).
  • Write a detailed description of each step.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Timeline

Legislative Process by Student
1. Write the BillAnyone in the U.S. can write a bill.
2. Introduce the Bill to CongressA Congress Member must introduce the bill to Congress. A member of the Senate or the House of Representatives can introduce the bill to their specific house.
3. Committee ReviewAn expert committee reviews the bill to reject, accept, or change it.
4. House #1 Vote Once the committee agrees on the bill, the house where the bill was introduced debates and votes on the bill. This can be in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
5. House #2 Vote If the house that introduced the bill votes to reject the bill, the legislative process is over. If they pass the bill with a majority vote, they give the bill to the second house to also have a chance to debate and vote on the bill. This can be the House of Representatives or the Senate. They can approve, reject or make ammendments (suggested changes) to the bill.
6. Congress MajorityIf the majority of the second house also approves the bill, it has achieved a congress majority and it passes to the final stage, the President. If the second house passes the bill with amendments, they send the amended bill back to the first house to vote again for a congress majority. If they reject the bill, the first house can choose to make amendments to the bill to start the legislative process again.
7. Presidential ApprovalIf the majority of congress (both houses) pass the bill, then it moves to the President for final approval. If he approves the bill, the bill is passed and the process is over. This is the final stage.
8. Veto and Two-Thirds MajorityIf the President vetoes the bill, Congress can override the veto if two-thirds vote to do so. If this happens, the process is over and the bill is passed. If a two-thirds majority is not achieved, any member of congress can amend the bill to begin the legislative process all over again.

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