Teaching the Constitution

The U.S. Constitution contains many complicated ideas and concepts that can be hard for students to grasp. The resources in this unit leverage the strong imagery of Mount Vernon’s video “A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution” to help connect the concepts that shaped our nation’s government in order to reach students in new ways.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources, Quizzes, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

George Washington and the Founding of the U.S. Government

The founding of the United States government is intimately intertwined with George Washington’s own biography. This web page offers resources for teachers to use in their classrooms associated with Washington’s role in the creation of the government. Included are primary and secondary sources, as well as essential questions for teaching the founding, lesson plans and classroom ready activities.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Media, Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution

This animated video highlights the Constitutional Convention and George Washington’s role in the formation of the new government. Events covered in the video include the causes leading to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the numerous compromises included in the document, and the challenges in ratifying the Constitution. The video has a run time of 23 minutes, and is broken into three chapters for easy navigation.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitutional Convention

This article focuses on George Washington’s role in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia from May 14 to September 17. Delegates were gathering to correct the various problems that had arisen while the newly-independent nation was operating under the Articles of Confederation, but Washington had to be persuaded to even attend.

  • Resource Type: Essays
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Acts of Congress

George Washington’s copy of the Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America (New-York, 1789) contains key founding documents establishing the Union: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a record of acts passed by the first Congress. In the margins, Washington wrote “President,” “Powers,” and “Required,” underscoring the responsibilities of the first Chief Executive. Learn more about this rare volume in the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12