Use these lesson plans, created by teachers for teachers, to explore U.S. civics and government.
Creating a Primary Source Archive: All History Is Local (Grades 6-12) Creating an archive of primary source materials constitutes the principal activity of a year-long American Studies class focusing on historiography and the use of primary sources. Students understand and articulate the interplay between national, state, local, and personal history.
The Bill of Rights: Debating the Amendments (Grades 6-12) Students examine a copy of twelve possible amendments to the United States Constitution from 1789, and debate and vote on which of these amendments they would ratify to produce a Bill of Rights.
The Conservation Movement at a Crossroads: The Hetch Hetchy Controversy (Grades 9-12) Two separate lessons for students to investigate and debate the controversies inherent in conservation programs. Students research federal laws related to conservation.
The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation? (Grades 9-12) Students identify arguments for and against the ratification of the Constitution.
The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union (Grades 9-12) This lesson focuses on the drafting of the United States Constitution. George Washington’s annotated copy of an early draft of the Constitution lets students analyze changes to the draft and explore the evolution of the final document.
The Declaration of Independence: Created Equal? (Grades 9-12) Students argue Thomas Jefferson's intentions in stating “All men are created equal.” Students gain an appreciation of Thomas Jefferson's efforts to deal with the complex issues of equality and slavery in the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence: From Rough Draft to Proclamation (Grades 8-12) Students analyze Thomas Jefferson's “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence, compare its text to that of the final document adopted by Congress, and discuss the significance of wording differences.
Segregation: From Jim Crow to Linda Brown (Grades 6-12) Students explore the era of legalized segregation. Students simulate the National Afro-American Council that met in Washington, D. C. in 1898.
George Washington: First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen (Grades 9-12) Students engage in three lessons examining George Washington's leadership. Lessons two and three relate to Washington’s role in the development of American government and his tenure as president.
The Great Depression and the 1990's (Grades 9-12) Students gain a better understanding of why the government takes care of its people and how welfare programs started. Lessons one and three relate to current issues in government.
The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States (Grades 6-12) Students look at the Constitution and link early legislative debates to issues of today.
The Minerva Mosaic of the Library of Congress (Grades 3-8) Students take a close look at the historic Minerva mosaic from the Great Hall of the Library of Congress and discover what it can tell them about the Library’s mission. They perform a basic primary source analysis and discuss the mosaic’s symbolism.
American Indian Reservation Controversies (Grades 9-12) Students are confronted with two real world problems regarding Native Americans, which have no preconceived right or wrong answers. In Scenario 2, students explore the effects of laws regarding Indian reservations.
Suffragists and Their Tactics (Grades 6-12) Students use primary sources to explore the strategies and challenges of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.
Thomas Jefferson's Library: Making the Case for a National Library (Grades 6-12) Students examine a Thomas Jefferson letter and identify techniques he used to persuade Congress to purchase his personal library. Students then consider a selection of those books and write their own persuasive letters urging the books' purchase.
Suffrage Strategies: Voices for Votes (Grades 3-8) Students create original documents encouraging citizens to vote in current elections. Students stage mock elections and design ephemera to influence public opinion.