The Purposes of Government

This lesson has students learn about the purposes of government specified in the preamble of the Constitution. Students will use C-SPAN video clips to define what is meant by “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” As practice, students will apply their knowledge of these purposes by viewing real-life examples of government actions and identifying the relevant purpose of government. This lesson works well in classrooms with one-to-one devices and can be adapted to flipped classrooms.

Grades 7-12
Federal Government
Media

Learning about the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

This resource provides students with an English language video and associated student friendly readings (in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole), as well as reading and video guides and self assessment tools. Using these, students will explore the meaning and importance of the Preamble.
Free registration is required to use the resource.

Grades 4, 5, 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Assessments

The United States Constitution (CKHG Unit)

The United States Constitution

This unit explores the creation and central ideas of the United States Constitution. Across 18 lessons, students learn how, after the Revolution, the Founding Fathers worked to confront the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. They learn why the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, and explore reasons why the Constitution has survived as the guiding document of government in the United States.

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Assessments

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)

George Washington and the Revolution

This short video examines the role played by George Washington in the defeat of the British during the American Revolution. From the moment he assumed command, Washington emphasized the importance of union to the war effort, in spite of challenges faced while commanding forces that were ill-fed, ill-supplied, and ill-served by the Confederation Congress. Professor W. B. Allen concludes that Washington’s leadership held both the military and the nation together during this tumultuous period.

Grades 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Video

Slavery: No Freedom, No Rights (Lesson Plan)

Examine the history of slavery in the United States. Trace the development and expansion of slavery in the 19th century and learn about the conflicts and compromises that occurred prior to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.

From the basics about slavery to the attitudes that defended it and the efforts of those who wanted to see it abolished, in this lesson students learn about this dark part of America’s past.

** Please note: The section about the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 has been moved to a new mini-lesson called Slave States, Free States that explores the debate about the expansion of slavery. We recommend teaching this mini-lesson along with the Slavery lesson. Find it in our Geography Library.

Grades 6, 7, 8
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

Colonial Influences (Lesson Plan and Powerpoint)

American colonists had some strong ideas about what they wanted in a government. These ideas surface in colonial documents, and eventually became a part of the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But where did they come from? This lesson looks at the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, English Bill of Rights, Cato’s Letters and Common Sense.

Grades 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

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.

Grades 3, 4, 5
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans