Learning about the three branches of government can be a little dull for kids. Explaining how the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government were created, how they check and balance each other and how they work to get bills passed, can make your kids' eyes glaze over. If your kids are learning about government in school, invite their friends over to play a variety of educational games that just might capture their attention and interest in this important topic.
Put the kids into teams of two or three for game show-style trivia. Create a list of questions related to the three branches of government, such as who the head of each branch is, what the main job is of each branch and how the branches check each other's powers. You can start by giving one group the question and 10 seconds to talk it over. If they get it wrong or don't answer, the next team to "buzz" in by hitting a bell or raising their hands gets to answer and earn the point. You can also play an individual game with different subjects relating to the branches of government. Give each question within each subject a different point value based on its difficulty. The kids must try to buzz in and answer the question correctly. You can have surprise double and triple point questions as well.
Plan a government-themed version of charades for the kids. Divide them up into two teams. One person from the team picks a paper from a jar with the government-related word or phrase they must get their team to guess by drawing it. Words could include "supreme court," "president," or phrases such as "checks and balances." For another game, write down government-related words on index cards and three words related to that word underneath. Each person must verbally describe the word at the top of the card, without using any of the words underneath. No gestures are allowed. The person whose turn it is must attempt to get his team to guess as many words as possible in one minute.
Create word puzzles using words related to the three branches of government. You could make word search and crossword puzzles using online puzzle generators that you can then print out for the kids to work on. Make it competitive by having the kids race to see who can complete a word puzzle first. You could also play U.S. government bingo, giving the kids bingo cards with definitions or answers to words or phrases such as "bill" and "veto." The first person to fill out a row wins the round.
Cut out two large tree shapes out of large pieces of cardboard and lay them flat on the grass in your yard. Label the tree in three sections for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Cut out construction paper apples with different facts and information about each each branch and mix them up. Divide the kids into two teams that must race to tape the apples to the tree in the appropriate sections, but can only add one apple at a time. The team to correctly place all of the apples first wins. You could also do a fun relay race where the teams have to gather items related to each branch of government, such as a gavel, a fake copy of the Constitution and a signed bill. The first to gather all their items wins.