Lesson 2: How Law is Made


Activity 1: The Branches of Government


Handout 1: Common Law can be given as a reading assignment for homework.  Discuss the highlights in class with the students.


This lesson is a primer for the next activity and can be assigned at the end of Lesson 1 for homework. Provide students with Handout 2: The Branches of Government and have them complete a set of two-column or Cornell notes using this sheet. These may be reviewed in class or you may have the students complete Handout 3: The Three Branches of Government as an informal review quiz.

To see the answer key for Handout 3, see the Assessment section.

Activity 2: Parliamentary Vocabulary

This lesson builds on the basics the students learned in activity one. Students will begin by completing the vocabulary list found in Handout 4: Parliamentary Vocabulary. Review the vocabulary.

Activity 3: Day in the Life

Inform students that they will be personifying a bill — they will tell the story of how a bill becomes a law from the perspective of the bill (recall the American cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock! and the cartoon I’m Just a Bill — http://www.schoolhouserock.tv/).

Instruct the students to complete the "day in the life" as a journal, diary, personal log, or even a cartoon strip as a homework assignment. Use selected students to present the stories in the next class. They may use Handout 5: A Day in the Life of a Bill for this. It is important to remember that the I’m Just a Bill cartoon is American so it will be slightly different from the Canadian process. Students can look on the Parliament of Canada’s website for Canadian information.

Activity 4: Bills! Bills! Bills! (Optional)

Students will then move to a Web Quest using the Parliament of Canada’s website. Students can use the chart on Handout 6: Bill! Bills! Bills! to record their information. In accessing the parliamentary website, students will be asked to identify a variety of bills — Private Member’s Bills, government bills, and bills originating in the senate. They must find examples of each type provide the title of the bill and write a brief summary of the contents and purpose of each bill. It is advisable to review the website and get a sense of the proposed bills for the parliamentary session the students are using to select examples. During the next class, review selected bills with the class, emphasizing the content and purpose of each. The research and class discussion sets up the model parliament in Activity 5.

Activity 5: Model Parliament (Optional)

Students will role-play Members of Parliament (MP) in a mock parliament. Acting as MPs, the students will go through the various stages of presenting and passing legislation — order paper, first reading, second reading, third reading, vote, and Royal Assent. See Handout 7: Canada’s Parliamentary System.

First, assign students to one of three political parties: government party (majority), official opposition, and a third party. The exact number of sitting members will depend on your class size but keep in mind that the total of both opposition parties must be at least one seat lower than the ruling party. Once in party groupings, have the students select leaders and assign roles according to the information in Handout 8: Parliamentary Roles.

Next, provide students with Handout 9: Model Parliament, review parliamentary processes and explain how this will play out in the model parliament. It is advisable to inform the students that they will dress formally for all sittings of the House.

Provide parties with a copy of the legislative proposals in Handout 10: Legislative Bills for Model Parliament, review the basic details and explain that they will need to research each bill. The bills cover a variety of topics and issues and are meant to encourage strong disagreement and debate. However, the students must give careful thought to each bill — research is strongly recommended. You may want to have students work in small groups within each party on the proposals or assign a review activity for next class to ensure all members understand the legislation.

Handout 9: Model Parliament will explain the basic procedure for the simulation from first reading to final vote and debrief. You may modify these steps or adjust the time frame to suit the needs, abilities, and pacing of your class. You can use Handout 11: Teacher Evaluation Rubric for Model Parliament for assessment.

Activity 6: Responsibilities of the Three Levels of Government


Provide students with Handout 12: Constitutional Framework for homework. They can use the information from this to answer the questions on Handout 13: What Did I Learn?


Introduce the three levels of government and discuss their responsibilities. You can make an overhead of Handout 14: Levels of Government — Responsibilities and Services to use here.

After showing the chart, hand out a copy of Handout 15: Who is Responsible? and Handout 14: Levels of Government — Responsibilities and Services. You and your students may add to the chart. Have students identify individuals who represent the various levels of government. You can also be specific by asking students to find out their local Member of Parliament, Member of the Legislative Assembly, and members of City Council, including the Mayor. If they don’t know, have them look at the following:

Hand out the Handout 16: Government Review if you would like to evaluate your students on what they have learned to this point.      

Activity 7: Disaster Plan and Your Government

Tell students that now they have learned about the three levels of government, their responsibilities and how these affect their lives, they’ll use their knowledge to deal with a disaster relief scenario. This may be a homework assignment to present next class.

Have students get into groups of 4-6 students. In their groups, the students are to pick a disaster (it can be natural, human, biological, or military) and form a relief plan of about 10 points. Students can put their plan on an overhead transparency or large poster paper. Hand out the Handout 17: Disaster Plan Outline to help the students organize their information. They must use all levels of government to help with the disaster.

  • Groups must discuss and record what the disaster is.
  • Gather information about the destruction the disaster caused.
  • Identify the services required.
  • Identify the levels of government that provide the service.
  • Identify aspects of administrations — human resources, communication, and coordination.
  • One spokesperson from each group presents the plan. The rest of the class may ask questions and make comments regarding the plan.
  • A class vote is held for the best relief plan.

Have the students complete Handout 19: Group/Self Evaluation Rubric. You can use Handout 20: Teacher Evaluation Rubric for Disaster Plan for your assessment of the disaster plan presentations. For further assessment you could also give the students Handout 18: How the Government Helps in a Disaster.