The Constitutional Convention: Fine Tuning the Balance of Powers

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the midst of the Constitutional Convention, after the Committee of Detail has submitted its draft for a new Constitution on August 6. With that draft’s concrete proposals on the floor, students will ponder questions such as: Is this the Constitution we want? Are the people adequately represented? Are the branches well structured? By engaging with these questions mid-stream, before the Convention reached its final conclusions, students will experience the Constitutional Convention as process, a supreme example of collective decision-making.

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitution of the United States with Index and the Declaration of Independence, Pocket Edition

This is the 25th pocket edition of the complete text of two core documents of American democracy, the Constitution of the United States (with amendments) and the Declaration of Independence. The resolution calling for the ratification of Constitutional Convention is also included. A topical index to the Constitution is provided. (House Document 112-29, 2012)

  • Resource Type: Books, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Fourth Branch: YOU! (Lesson Plan)

Students learn how citizens can influence the government. They measure the impact of their “citizen power” on each of the three branches and learn how to target the right government official with their concerns. (Note: This lesson will be most effective if students have some background knowledge of the three branches of government.)

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Grade 6-8 Give and Take to Create a Constitution

The purpose of this lesson is to engage students in a discussion of the Constitutional Convention. Students will explore the key disputes that arose during the Convention, including most prominently how power would be divided between the federal and state governments and the various branches of government. They will synthesize various sources explored debate and compromise and the Convention to understand the idea of civic discourse in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Grade 3-5 Passing the Constitution, A Lesson in State Ratification

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the ratification period that followed the Federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Through various activities to understand the what, why, who, where, and when of state ratification debates, students will see that state ratification of the Constitution was a critical element of establishing the new government’s legitimacy. Student activities throughout the day will help to build a State Ratification Bulletin Board.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5

Our Constitution

The Our Constitution book, written by Donald A. Ritchie and JusticeLearning.org, takes an in-depth look at the Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Included are texts of primary source materials, sidebar material on each article and amendment, profiles of Supreme Court cases, and timelines. The complete book or individual chapters can be downloaded.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitution of the United States

The original U.S. Constitution is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Drafted in 1787 after a hard-won victory in the War for Independence, this document codified the spirit of the Revolution into an ingenious practical scheme of government to promote the welfare of all its citizens.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades:

Constitution Homepage on DocsTeach.org

Locate primary sources from the holdings of the National Archives related to such topics as “checks and balances,” “representative government,” all 27 amendments, and other concepts found in the Constitution. This special home page devoted to the U.S. Constitution also features activities to share with students, such as “The Constitution at Work,” which uses primary sources to demonstrate the Constitution in action in our everyday lives.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Audio, Editorial Cartoons, Games, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution at Work

In this online activity students will analyze documents that span the course of American history to determine their connection to the U.S. Constitution. Students will then make connections between the documents they have examined and the big ideas found within the Constitution.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Games, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11