BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Levels of Government

Grade 5


Levels of Government

Big Idea

Canadian institutions and government reflect the challenge of our regional diversity

Essential Question

Which level of government has the most effect on your daily life?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • levels of government (federal, provincial, and municipal), their main functions, and sources of funding

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Construct arguments defending the significance of individuals/groups, places, events, and developments

Core Competencies

I can summarize the responsibilities of government.

I can distinguish between key roles within provincial, territorial, and federal governments in Canada.

I can recognize and appreciate the impact of government in my daily life.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors
  • Ask: Did you know that there are several levels of government in Canada? Can you guess why? (Canada is a large country with a great deal of geographical diversity. A single government could not possibly meet the diverse needs of all its citizens.)
  • Tell the students that the roles and responsibilities of our country are shared, not unlike how the roles and responsibilities in a family are also shared.


  • Provide students with the handout “Responsibilities of Family Members”. They can then list the members of their household across the top of the sheet below the title.
  • Ask: What is each member in your household responsible for in the management of the household? What chores does each person do? (Some suggestions might be walking the dog, cleaning your bedroom, laundry, cooking, vacuuming, shoveling snow, paying bills, gardening, etc.)
  • Have the students record them below each person’s name. Discuss the students’ responses. Ask: Are there any chores that could be done by anyone in the family? (Taking out the trash) Are there some jobs that the adults in your house must do? (Paying bills)

Part 1: The Three Levels of Government

  • Ask: What are the three main levels of government in Canada? (municipal, provincial, federal)
  • Post 6 charts around the room, 2 each with the titles of “Municipal”, “Provincial”, “Federal”.
  • Divide the class in half then divide each half into 3 groups. One half of the class will work with three of the charts and the other half will repeat the same activity with the other three charts. (This is simply to ensure the groups are small enough to be manageable.)
  • Each student should have a black marker. Their group will rotate through the set of three charts. Set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, each group will rotate to a second chart, and finally the third so they have a chance to visit each of the topics and make a note of their prior knowledge and wonderings. While at each chart, the students should write anything they know about the title topic and/or any questions they have about it. For example, under “Federal” someone might write: “create money for the country” or “how do they decide who should run for Prime Minister?”
  • NOTE: Students should initial their comments to identify them as they will be coming back to these charts later in the lesson.
  • Some of what they have written may be incorrect. Other students may have a greater level of understanding.


Part 2: Responsibilities of Levels of Government

  • Watch the short video The Levels of Government (2:36).
  • Project an urban street scene from your city or a city near you - such as the one of Vancouver. Have the students identify signs or symbols in the image that identify different levels of government in the community. For example, a mailbox, street lights, a bus or other form of transit, a flag, etc. Try to find as many at each level as you can.
  • Show the video: Who Does What? (4:24) to help students learn more about what each level is responsible for.
  • Tell the students they will work with a partner to practice identifying the responsibilities of each government level by playing the Levels of Government
  • Distribute the handout “Three Levels of Government Reflection Slip”. Have students complete them by circling which level of government they feel has the most impact on their lives and writing about why they feel this way.


Part 3: The Three Branches of Federal Government

  • Show the video What are Canada’s three branches of government? (2:57).
  • Tell the students that they will be doing a Jigsaw Activity in order to learn more about each of these three branches. Divide the class in half. Divide each half into 3 groups. Assign two of these 6 smaller “expert” groups to research the judicial branch, two groups to research the legislative branch, and two groups to research the executive branch. Allow a set amount of time for research.
  • When the time is up, these groups are broken up and new triads are created with one student who is an “expert” on each of the branches. They must now teach their other two group members about the branch they researched so that everyone now understands not only the branch they researched, but also the ones their other partners researched.
  • Have the new triad groups create a poster or Powerpoint which explains all three branches of government by combining what they have learned.
  • Groups can share with the rest of the class. Hearing similar information from a number of groups will help solidify the new learning for all students.
  • Project this image to show the structure of Canadian government. Discuss the key roles of individuals within our government. Use this link to identify and learn about these roles.
  • Show the video A Day in the Life of a Member of Parliament (4:43).
  • Have each student choose a key role such as Premier, Prime Minister, MLA, MP, Lieutenant governor or Governor General and research more about what each role entails.
  • Have the students write a job description for their chosen role outlining the qualifications and responsibilities required.
  • Return to the original 6 charts from Part 1 of the lesson. Divide the students into their original groups again. This time they should all have a red marker.
  • Have the groups rotate amongst the charts as before, adding their new knowledge and understanding in red. Have each student put their initials by their comments so you can assess new learning.


  • Use this Kahoot Quiz for students to test their knowledge:
  • Use this link to help students create a mock parliament in the classroom:
  • Hold an election for class president. Have candidates create a platform - identify their goals and what they want to accomplish if they are elected.
  • Choose a current or past Premier, Governor General or Prime Minister and research them. Write a short biography about them and their major accomplishments or contributions.

British Columbia. [n.d.] “Learning Resources.” Legislative Assemblyhttps://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/learning-resources

British Columbia. [n.d.] “Teaching Resources: Grade 5 Social Studies.” Legislative Assemblyhttps://www.leg.bc.ca/content-peo/Pages/DYL-Grade5-SS.aspx

Parliament of Canada. [n.d.] “Classroom Activities.” Learn About Parliament.


Parliament of Canada. [n.d.] “Glossary of Parliamentary Terms.” Learn about Parliament. https://lop.parl.ca/About/Parliament/Education/glossary-younger-students-e.htm

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Last Reviewed

February 01, 2023

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