Activity Overview

When studying U.S. History particularly, it's helpful for students to understand the differences between the powers of the governments that exist within a country. In this activity, students will create a T-Chart that compares and contrasts the powers of federal and state governments. While both governments are a part of the same country, it's very clear that not all of the states are governed the same from the state level. This power difference can be interesting for students to investigate.

Students should either choose or be assigned one of the fifty U.S states and compare the powers delegated to that state with those of the federal government. Students should represent three powers reserved to each of the respective governments. Listed below is a helpful reference to differentiate between some of the powers reserved to states and the federal government.

Powers Reserved for the Federal Government

  • Coin Money
  • Declare War
  • Create Foreign Policy
  • Admit New States to the Union
  • Maintain Armed Forces
  • Protect Copyrights and Patents
  • Establish the Postal System
  • Regulate Interstate Commerce

Powers Reserved for the States

  • Create and Maintain Schools
  • Regulate State Commerce
  • Establish Local Governments
  • 10th Amendment - "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Extended Activity

Students should either create an additional T-Chart, or add to the one from the activity that represents the differing laws between two states. Some of the potential topics for these laws:

  • Driver's License Requirements
  • Gambling Laws
  • Religious Freedom Laws
  • Abortion Laws
  • Hunting Laws
  • Drinking Age
  • Drug Legality
  • Firework Laws
  • Helmet Laws

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a T Chart that compares and contrasts the powers of federal and state governments.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In one column, identify and describe the powers reserved for the Federal Government.
  3. In the other column, do the same for powers reserved for the State Government.
  4. Create an illustration to visualize each power using appropriate scenes, items, and characters.
  5. Save often!

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

More Storyboard That Activities

Introduction to Government

Image Attributions
  • Drivers License -Teen driver • State Farm • License Attribution (
  • Fireworks • bayasaa • License Attribution (
  • Gambling Addiction • schnappischnap • License Attribution (
  • Pints of Beer • Simon Cocks • License Attribution (
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