The partner organizations in the Civics Renewal Network have gathered resources to help teachers and parents coping with school closings. These resources cover grades K-12 and offer a variety of activities to keep students engaged in learning outside the classroom. All are free and online. Check back often as we will continue to add resources.
ABOTA Civics Education
ABOTA Civics Education is holding an essay contest for middle and high school students. Winners will be chosen in each group and will receive $500 and a possibility of their essay being published. Deadline is May 22, 2020.
In addition, ABOTA has released a new activity for middle and high school students. Different Government Types teaches about the different government systems in the world, then challenges students to create their own government.
ABA Division for Public Education
The American Bar Association Division for Public Education has developed a series of resources on the history and significance of the 19th Amendment — commemorating the centennial of ratification of the amendment — that are available here, including a toolkit for use with students.
The current issue of the Division’s magazine for teachers, Insights on Law & Society, also focuses on the 19th Amendment and has sections specifically for students. Insights also has back issues on a wide array of law-related topics.
In addition, the annual commemoration of Law Day on May 1 is fast approaching. This year’s Law Day theme is “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100,” and the Law Day web pages have lesson plans and other resources.
Finally, students can follow this year’s Supreme Court term by using the resources provided in “PREVIEW in the Classroom,” which investigates one case argued before the Supreme Court every month.
More than 60 engaging videos on landmark Supreme Court cases, amendments, the Bill of Rights, and constitutional concepts include primary sources, commentary from historians, legal scholars and Supreme Court justices. Most run about 25 minutes and have subtitles in English and Spanish available. Lesson plans are available and can be adapted for long-distance learning.
The Annenberg Guide to the Constitution: What It Says, What It Means pairs the original text of each article and amendment with an explanation of what it means.
Annenberg Learner continues its mission of providing free content and resources for K-12 educators, students, and families at learner.org. Search classroom resources by grade levels and subject areas. Some video resources also include coordinated online materials, such as user guides, downloadable textbooks, labs and interactives, and more.
Bill of Rights Institute
The Bill of Rights Institute is meeting the learning needs of tens of thousands of teachers and students during the coronavirus crisis. Always-free digital learning tools include:
• 3,000+ classroom-ready lessons and activities, at resources.mybri.org, including https://voicesofhistory.org/votes-for-women/: The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment
• Documents of Freedom, a digital textbook on civics, American history, and economics;
• A robust YouTube channel with live Advanced Placement exam prep student webinars, Homework Help video series ranging from Landmark Supreme Court Cases to Constitutional Principles to Economics in AP US History, and 10th Period Webinars for teacher professional development;
• Founding principles-aligned current events and eLessons;
• We the Students https://billofrightsinstitute.org/engage/students-programs-events/scholarship/, with $19,000 in student prizes;
• Think the Vote, a student debate platform that builds civil discourse skills;
• A new history podcast, Fabric of History; and
• Coming this summer, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: A History of the American Experiment, a comprehensive U.S. history written by 100 historians.
Center for Civic Education
We the People Open Course
This course takes you from the philosophical foundations of the U.S. Constitution through the modern interpretation and application of its ideals. You will find videos of noted scholars explaining key aspects of the Constitution and online exercises to check for understanding. The course follows the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution Level 3 (high school) textbook, which has been used throughout the country to further understanding of our government and its fundamental principles.
Strengthening Democracy in America
Strengthening Democracy in America is a collection of free courses featuring video interviews with noted scholars. These courses will deepen your understanding of the American political system and your rights and responsibilities in it. The first two courses provide a framework for understanding the history and development of the system. Subsequent courses focus on its strengths and weaknesses and means of enhancing the strengths and diminishing the weaknesses. The courses are open to anyone and can be completed at your own pace.
Center on Representative Government
Engaging Congress is a free Civics/Government/US History primary source based interactive that is intended for distance learning scenarios as well as in-class use. It can be played through the Web or downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. Visit engagingcongress.org for a “How To Video,” teachers resources, and the link for web play.
Constitutional Rights Foundation
Civics on Call provides classroom-ready lessons on issues of the day, including containing the coronavirus. All the lessons include a fact-based article on the news event, then pose questions for writing and discussion.
Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource)
Teachers can take advantage of our lesson plans, including our Constitution for Kids resource, as well as videos from events we’ve hosted with famous historians and legal minds. As always, they can also turn to our library for free, annotated primary source documents on the Founding era.
Core Knowledge Foundation
The Core Knowledge Foundation provides free resources available for download for preschool through grade 8. The curriculum includes the language arts, history, geography and science.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
The Institute hosts a Civcs at Home page filled with resources and activities for students. These include Make a Difference activities for children and families to encourage young people to think about how they can make a difference in their communities and in the world. About the Senate activities teach about the work senators do, how they work together, and some traditions they follow.
Florida Joint Center for Citizenship
Civics in Real Life is a new, simple to use resource that ties in to what’s going on today. On this page, updated twice weekly through the end of the current school year, you will find concise resources that explore a civics concept or idea connected to current events. Simply click on the resource to download the PDF and share with your students!
Civics360 is a free resource that engages middle and high school students with a wide spectrum of civics content, from understanding citizenship to US foreign and domestic policy. It features narrated and animated videos, readings in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, practice assessments, vocabulary tools, and additional links to quality tutorials and resources. A free login is required.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
In this unprecedented time of school closures and the increased need for online learning resources, we have carefully selected some of Mount Vernon’s vast digital offerings that can be useful in this new style of classroom. You will find Digital Primary Sources as well as Interactive Learning and Media, including videos, games, quizzes, and activities that can be completed independently or as a group.
Online Activities for Kids
Find crafts and projects, activities and worksheets, and dynamic videos.
George Washington’s Rules of Civility in the Age of COVID-19: In 1745, a young George Washington copied down a set of rules in his workbook. His aim was to learn how to properly conduct himself in society. He took his examples from the writings of a 16th century Jesuit priest. The rules Washington recorded still resonate today as we learn how to navigate the health crisis the world is now facing while trying to maintain civil behavior.
The George Washington Teacher Institute is offering weekly, 90-minute professional development sessions for teachers on Thursdays this spring. Each free session, hosted by one of our Residential Program lead scholars, focuses on one of our program themes and highlights take-away activities and Mount Vernon resources for educators to bring into their classroom. Go here to register.
Whether you’re an educator or a parent, iCivics’ free civics resources provide enrichment activities and easy-to-use lessons to keep learning going at home. Now, more than ever, it is critical to help our youth build important civic knowledge and skills to help them understand how individuals and communities can work together to solve local, national, and global problems.
Remote Learning Toolkit for Educators and Families
For Educators: A new Game Odyssey turns free iCivics games into an exciting adventure for civics knowledge, specially designed for remote learning play. Students will play their way through a series of games each week, claim badges, share their successes, and learn important civics lessons on their journey. The Game Odyssey aims to provide students with a goal to complete each week and help them stay motivated to learn during these difficult times.
For Families: iCivics has created manageable, bite-sized learning and engagement activities that children can enjoy with minimal supervision. Parents can use a series of weekly civic learning plans or use grab-and-go ideas for the whole family, including a downloadable BINGO card and for younger learners (7-10 yrs old).
The coronavirus has generated many rumors and false reports. Help your students learn to spot false reporting and sharpen their news literacy skills by playing Newsfeed Defenders.
iCivics, through Study Edge is offering its curated and tested AP® U.S. Government and Politics Exam resources for free. The study course features over 100 videos and accompanying study guides that break down all of the essential content, making it more accessible for all learners. All of the content can be used at home. Email iCivics@studyedge.com now to gain free access via a custom code that will be sent to you within two business days and be valid until Aug. 31, 2020.
Elementary Age At-Home Learning Activities
These activities and ideas focus on skills such as sequencing and finding clues in historical objects, and topics such as symbols and national monuments. The activities include: Genealogy Activities; From Seeds to Harvest; Democracy and Symbols of Citizenship; Was Laura Goodale an Early American Historian?; Investigating a Women’s Suffrage Photograph; and Finding American Symbols.
At-Home Learning Activities for Middle School
Check out these online activities and lesson plans from around the National Archives and Presidential Libraries for teaching civics or American history to Middle School students. Activities include: The Legislative Race, Checks and Balances in Action, A President’s Day, We Shall Overcome: March on Washington, Introduction to the Domino Theory and Containment in Vietnam, and more.
At-Home Learning Activities for High School
Check out these online resources from around the National Archives and Presidential Libraries for teaching American history or government to high school students. Resources include: The Legislative Process: Congress at Work, World on the Brink: The Cuban Missile Crisis, The War in Vietnam – A Story in Photographs, The Impact of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Nixon Visits China, The Space Race: Project Mercury, and more.
Online Student Programs with the Presidential Libraries and National Archives
Live interactive learning programs are available for preschool through 12th grade, and are scheduled weekly through the end of May. Topics include The Story Behind the Titanic, Ending the War in Japan, The Space Shuttle Challenger, The Constitution at Work, and more.
DocsTeach.org: DocsTeach is the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives. Teachers can access primary source-based learning activities and assign them to students to complete online. Students can complete activities and research primary sources on a variety of topics spanning American history. Learn more here.
Upcoming professional development webinars for educators: Go here.
Learn about America’s founding documents from the National Archives, the home of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
Founders Online: Through Founders Online, you can read and search through thousands of documents to and from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison and see firsthand the growth of democracy and the birth of the Republic. Their letters and journals are a kind of “first draft” of the Charters of Freedom.
National Constitution Center
Scholar Exchanges: Starting Monday, March 23, we will launch an eight-week webinar series, allowing middle, high school, and college students to sign up for remote learning via Zoom for daily lectures and lively conversations about the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution.
Using the acclaimed nonpartisan Interactive Constitution as a learning platform, the National Constitution Center offers these free classes to students of all ages and will enlist thought leaders, historians, and judges from all perspectives to offer special lectures on the Constitution during the months ahead.
Scholar Exchanges are offered in three ways:
–On-demand sessions where teachers can schedule an online constitutional conversation between a scholar and their students only.
–Open source public sessions for teachers, students, and parents to join a constitutional conversation from anywhere in the United States.
–Mixed grade level public sessions with special guests who introduce additional constitutional topics that are different from the week’s theme.
Learn more here.
Student Exchanges: Students can interact directly with peer classes from across the country, developing civil dialogue skills and learning how constitutional issues impact their lives. Student to student exchanges can be conducted from any location with a laptop and internet access or a phone using Zoom. Exchange topics include the Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly and Petition, and Freedom of Religion. Learn more here
For more resources, including videos, podcasts, and the Interactive Constitution, go here.
All lessons are Google classroom compatible.
BackStory: Forgotten Flu–America and the 1918 Pandemic. This episode of “BackStory takes listeners into the flu pandemic of 1918 that killed nearly 675,000 people in the U.S. Consider the essential question: How do the measures taken by health officials in 1918 and 1919 compare to contemporary responses to pandemics? An audio recording, a listening guide, and connections to resources for investigating pandemics in world history are provided.
Using Primary Sources in Digital and Live Archives: A teacher’s guide
Digital Humanities and Online Learning: The NEH has compiled a collection of digital resources for K-12 and higher education instructors who teach in an online setting. The resources in this teacher’s guide range from videos and pocasts to digitized primary sources and interactive activities and games as well as resources for online instruction.
Media Resources: EDSITEment provides access to NEH-funded media resources, including videos, podcasts, lectures, interactives for the classroom, and film projects. Each resource includes questions to prompt analysis, connections to other NEH-related resources, and links to related EDSITEment lessons and materials.
A More Perfect Union: This teacher’s guide brings together EDSITEment resources in history, civics, literature, arts and culture that promote a deeper understanding of American history and culture and that advance civics education and knowledge of the core principles of U.S. government.
Spanish Language Resources: This teacher’s guide compiles some of the best online resources for teaching Spanish to students new to the language as well as to heritage and native speakers.
Evaluating Information About Coronavirus
NewseumED is here to help you evaluate information about coronavirus. Using the ESCAPE strategy, we have developed six quick and easy activities to quiet the news noise and help you find quality information about the current public health situation. This activity guide can be downloaded at NewseumED.org.
Using the First Amendment During Chaotic Events
Help students understand the choices journalists make when deciding what to report in unusual situations with our virtual class, Covering a Catastrophe. Participants discover the challenges of sorting fact from rumor, accessing information and possible conflicts between personal and professional ethics for journalists covering catastrophic breaking news. Participants will examine real-life case studies from 9/11 and other disasters, applying the principles they’ve learned through a process of debate and discussion.
Free Virtual Classes for Your School or Community!
Stuck at home and want to learn something new? The Freedom Forum is here to help! Whether you’re across the world or right next door, our NewseumED teachers are ready to lead live, virtual classes with your students or community group on media literacy and First Amendment topics. All classes are free of charge. Check out our list of classes and booking information here.
Share My Lesson
Remote Learning Community: Preparing for the Coronavirus
In response to the closure of schools across the country, Street Law has developed a list of resources and suggested learning strategies for at-home learning.
A list of curated resources, including webinars. More will be posted every few days.
Court Shorts: Rule of Law
Federal judges explain how the rule of law protects individual rights and well-being in everyday situations like buying a breakfast sandwich, reading personal mail, and investing in the stock market. The rule of law also means that judges follow the Constitution even when they have to make unpopular decisions. This five-minute video is part of the Court Shorts series on courts and the Constitution for teens and adults who want to understand current events through the lens of the Constitution. Watch other civics education outreach videos here.
From Suffragist Sashes to Antiwar Armbands
In a 19th Amendment video, produced by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for use in classrooms, courtrooms, and the distance-learning space, an unlikely connection is made between two rights activists from different eras. Suffragette Virginia Minor and Vietnam War protester Mary Beth Tinker were separated by 100 years, but their passions came together in the legal history of the nation and of St. Louis, where they each worked through the courts to make social change. Both cases were decided – with different outcomes — by the Supreme Court of the United States. The video asks viewers to consider the role of the courts and the extraordinary impact that ordinary people can have on society.
Court Shorts: Separation of Powers
Federal judges share their respect for and commitment to the separation of powers as a founding principle, which has an impact on everyday life. This five-minute video is for teens through adults who want to understand how Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary are designed to relate to each other, particularly when dealing with contentious issues. As the video illustrates, all three branches play a role in preserving constitutional liberties. Court Shorts is a video series on the law-related pillars of democracy. Watch other civics education videos here.
Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions: Legal Skills as Life Skills
Federal judges talk about civility as a critical factor in making difficult decisions in the law and in life. In this four-minute video, they share insights on the role of civil discourse in dealing with contentious, high-stakes issues in their courtrooms. In this four-minute video judges talk about their responsibility for setting the standards of decorum in the courtroom, using the same skills that young people need to set the tone for civil discourse in their daily life. Watch other civics education videos here.
Youth Leadership Initiative
E-Congress: Looking for an interactive way to teach about the legislative branch? The Youth Leadership Initiative’s E-Congress program allows students to learn about Congress by writing original legislation and following it through the lawmaking process.
First Freedom Wall: The digital First Freedom Wall was created in partnership with American Evolution in order to emphasize the beginnings of self-government at Jamestown in 1619. This program connects classrooms across the country in discussions of American politics stressing the need for civil discourse and debate. The digital First Freedom Wall models appropriate use of social media and develops critical thinking skills.
Democracy Corps: The YLI Democracy Corps answers students’ questions about why we have a democracy and how they can be involved in it. Students interact with local political leaders, deliberate solutions to real problems and influence public policy related to contemporary issues.