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By Mrsbenalayat
On July 13, 2020

Lesson Plan: Middle School Checks and Balances

Checks and Balances

Author, Harold Giles Unger discussed the importance of how the system of checks in balances in our government have held the U.S. together.


The principle of checks and balances prevents one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Examples of checks and balances include vetoing of a bill, ratifying treaties, judicial review and others. This lesson provides video clips with examples and explanations of checks and balances.



    After reviewing the background information, have students test their understanding of the following vocabulary words. You may print this out or you may assign it to each student individually using Google Classroom, Schoology or another classroom platform. This activity is divided into two pages.

    Checks and Balances Vocabulary Drag and Drop Activity (Google Slide)

    Bill Veto Separation of Power Pardon Treaty Nullify Override Confirmation Judicial Review Hearing

  • WARM-UP:

    Have students answer each of the following questions:

    1. What are the three branches of government?

    2. What responsibilities does each branch have?

    As a class, view the following video. Then have students turn and talk to a partner to answer the accompanying questions. After 5 minutes, have groups volunteer to share out their answers. Then, review the concept of checks and balances and the powers of each branch of government with the students.

    Video Clip 1: Checks and Balances (1:11)

    In the video clip, Mr. Giles Unger is discussing the idea of checks and balances. Based on his description, explain the concept of checks and balances.

    1. What are examples of this?

    2. Discuss at least 2 examples of checks and balances that Mr. Giles Unger mentioned.

    Have students complete the following graphic organizer:

    Checks and Balances Organizer (Google Doc)

    Students will watch five video clips. For each video clip, students will answer the following questions by completing the chart;

    1. Which “check” is being used?

    2. Which branch has this power?

    3. Which branch is being checked?

    There is a chart in the organizer that will help students remember the systems of checks and balances and assist them with using the correct word usage.

    Answer Key for Checks and Balances Organizer (Google Doc)


    Writing Prompts:

    1. Pick one check that a branch of government has over another. Imagine what would happen if the check over that branch did not exist. Explain the potential consequences of not having that in place.

    2. Which example of checks and balances is most important? Explain your arguments. Which branch (if any) do you think is the weakest? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources


  • Bill
  • Confirmation
  • Hearing
  • Judicial Review
  • Nullify
  • Override
  • Pardon
  • Separation Of Power
  • Treaty
  • Veto


Executive BranchJudicial BranchLegislative Branch


Middle School