Lesson 2: How Law is Made


Grade Level



2-3 periods; if the model parliament activity is done it will take an additional 1‑2 class periods

Lesson Plan (PDF)


In this lesson students, will learn about common law, statute law, and constitutional law. They will begin by learning about the three branches of government. Students will have the opportunity to understand the process used to pass legislation in our Parliament. This will prepare them for a mock parliament. Students will also learn about Canada’s constitutional framework, what it is and how it came to be. Students will learn about the areas of jurisdiction carved out under a federalist state. Students will use their learning to explore disaster scenarios and to write and present a disaster relief plan using emergency services provided by the different levels of government – Federal, Provincial, and Municipal.


By the end of this lesson students will:

  • Learn about common law or judge-made law
  • Identify the three branches of government at the federal level (legislative,  
  • executive, and judicial)
  • Explain the structure and operation of each branch
  • Explain and understand how a bill becomes a law in Canada’s parliamentary
  • system
  • Understand the relationship between the legislative process and policymaking
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the Canadian Constitution
  • Identify the division of powers and recognize its impact on Canadians

Focus Questions

  1. What is the difference between common law and statute law?
  2. What is the function of the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial)?
  3. How does a bill become a law in Canada?
  4. What is a constitution?
  5. Why does our government divide its powers between the federal and provincial governments?

Teaching Summary

Topic 1: Judge-Made Law or Common Law

The information on this topic is brief. Students will read Handout 1: Common Law for homework.

Topic 2: Government-Made Law or Statute Law

This topic is covered in Activities 1-5. Before starting the lesson, read the content for this topic.

For Activity 1, students will begin by reading Handout 2: The Branches of Government and will use this information to complete the chart in Handout 3: The Three Branches of Government. In Activity 2, students will complete a vocabulary list on Handout 4: Parliamentary Vocabulary. Students will then learn how a bill becomes a law by watching a short video. Next, students will complete a short writing assignment on Handout 5: A Day in the Life of a Bill and fill out a chart on Handout 6: Bills! Bills! Bills! for Activities 3 and 4. Activity 5 is a role play exercise, and will require Handout 7: Canada’s Parliamentary System, Handout 8: Parliamentary Roles, Handout 9: Model Parliament and Handout 10: Legislative Bills for Model Parliament.

Topic 3: Constitutional Law

Activities 6 and 7 discuss constitutional law. Before introducing students to this topic, review the content. Students will read Handout 12: Constitutional Framework for homework and use it to complete five questions on Handout 13: What Did I Learn?

For Activity 6, discuss Handout 14: Levels of Government Responsibilities/Services to use here. Students will use this to answer the questions on Handout 15: Who is Responsible?

Activity 7 is a group exercise where students choose a natural disaster and create a disaster relief plan. They will identify which level of government will be responsible for what. They will need Handout 17: Disaster Plan Outline and can use Handout 18: How the Government Helps in a Disaster to test their knowledge.