How a Bill Becomes a Law for Kids and Teachers - US Government Illustration

How a bill becomes a law
Lesson Plans, Games, Activities,

For Kids

Laws are a set of rules. Games have rules. Your parents may give you rules you have to follow. Your school has rules. But some rules are so important that are made into laws by local, state, and federal governments. You've probably heard the expression "It's the law!" In government, most laws are created to protect people and property. You've probably seen a stop sign that swings open on the side of school bus that says STOP. These are pictures of laws that must be obeyed. You must stop until that sign closes. If you don't, you could hurt someone. You could go to jail.

Who makes the laws? Today, in many places in the world, people have a voice in making laws. In the United States, we elect people to make our laws. But the people we elect cannot make just any law they feel like making. They are limited by state and federal constitutions, which spell out what they can and cannot do. Once they check to make sure the new law they want to be enacted is "constitutional", they then have to present a "bill" to the rest of the lawmakers. A bill is the new law they would like to see passed and enforced. They have to give reasons why it's a good new law. There is a lot of discussion before a vote is taken because local, state, and federal laws affect a great many people. Once a law is designed, and voted on in Congress (state or federal), and passes, it becomes a law. A person who lives in the United States has to obey at three sets of laws - local laws, which are sometimes called ordinances; state laws; and federal laws. It is a lot to know, but it's important to know the laws that affect you.

How can we change an unfair law? Some laws become out of date. Others were never very good laws to begin with. Fortunately, there are peaceful way to change laws. But until a law is changed, everyone affect by that law has to obey it, whether they agree with it or not. You may not be successful, but you can certainly try if you go about in the right way.

New laws are being made all the time. Since there are so many laws, how you possibly know them all? The quick answer is, you can't. But, many laws are available in booklet form, such as what you need to know to get a drivers license in your state. Others are told to you in school, such as: If you copy somebody else's work and hand it in as your own, you are breaking the law. If you are caught, you will be a great deal of trouble, even if you're a kid. It's important to learn the laws that probably will affect you, depending upon what you are doing, because ignorance is no defense under the law. You can search the internet. You can email and/or call government offices. You can research at the library. You can ask, a free service that allows you to ask real attorneys a question. You can hire an attorney.

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For Teachers

Lesson Plans, Classroom Activities, Simulations, Projects, more 

How does a bill become a law? PowerPoint

How a bill becomes a law (PowerPoint)  

What if laws are unjust? What can you do to help change unfair laws? lesson plan

Free Use Video Clips