How A Bill Becomes a Law Lesson Plan
Bills, resolutions, presidential orders and filibusters. We hear about them often on television or the radio, but what role do they play in lawmaking? Follow the process of how a bill becomes a law from start to finish with this lesson plan full of activities.
To explore the process of lawmaking by following a bill from it’s conception to becoming a law. Students will be able to:
- Learn the in and outs of lawmaking.
- Learn key terms lawmakers use everyday.
- Research specific bills to learn about the process in real time.
- Explore the methods and hurdles lawmakers have in the process.
Standards: NCSS Standard: VI. Power, Authority, & Government
Time Required: 1-2 classes
Grade Level: 3 - 12th grade
Topics: Art, History, Government
Card Sorting Activity: Grades 2-4
Students can use this card sorting activity to learn the 5 steps on How a Bill Becomes a Law
Terms Used in Congress: Grades 5-12
Print these activities and test your class’ knowledge.
- Terms and Vocabulary Used in Congress (PDF) | Answer Key (PDF)
- More Terms and Vocabulary Used in Congress (PDF) | Answer Key (PDF)
You can add terms to the list from:
Learn About Laws and How They are Made: Grades 7-12
Use the How a Bill Becomes a Law infographic to teach students about lawmaking and discuss the process with these questions.
- How does a bill fail?
- Can Congress pass a bill without the President’s signature?
- Can the President pass a law without congressional approval?
- Where can I find the bill proposed by my congressman?
- Look up your congressman (senator or representative) in your state and find a bills he/she sponsored and which committees he/she is in.
- How long has he/she has been serving and for which party?
- Of the bills he/she has sponsored, how many became law? Do you know the bill?
Research a Bill: Grades 9-12
Urge your students to learn about a real bill that they might know, whether that is a historic civil rights law or a local bill creating a road or national park. Students can use Congress.gov to research bills by topic, sponsors and lawmaker. They can also look up bills that are stuck or died on the way to the president’s desk.
The class can:
- Prepare group presentations or individually track a bill to explain their status or outcome. This will help students visualize the path a bill takes to becoming a law in real life.
- Break up into small groups and create a timeline and present it to class detailing the status of the bill.
- Extension Activity: Research what made that bill a success or failure, budget concerns, controversy, etc.
- Kids.gov's How a Bill Becomes a Law infographic
- Research Real Bills
- Example of How to Track a Bill: Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2003
- Presidential Executive Orders and Executive Actions