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

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 Constitutional Convention: To Sign or Not to Sign (Option A: The Historical Constitution)

NOTE: This lesson depends on a prior study of the Constitution Convention and the plan it produced, whether that study has been based on ConSource’s Constitutional Convention Simulation lessons or other curricula. Students will not be able to make a reasoned decision on whether to sign the Constitution unless they know what it is they are asked to endorse. Classes that have engaged in ConSource’s Constitutional Convention simulation can engage with both “To Sign or Not to Sign: Option A,” which asks students to cast a final vote on the Constitution of 1787, and “To Sign or Not to Sign: Option B,” which asks students to cast a final vote on the student-generated constitution.

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

Constitution Day

Make sure you have the resources you need to explore the Constitution with your class for Constitution Day! Check out our featured Constitution Day 2015 lesson plan “The Constitutional Convention” from Documents of Freedom – or utilize many of our other Constitution related lesson plans. We have complete classroom lessons for both middle school and high school classes that are sure to engage your students!

  • Resource Type: Books, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitutional Convention: To Sign or Not to Sign (Option B: Student-Generated Constitution)

NOTE: This lesson is for classes that have completed other components of ConSource’s Constitutional Convention Simulation unit. Classes that have not engaged with other lessons in this unit should use Option A, in which students decide whether to sign the historical Constitution. Teachers whose classes have participated in the ConSource simulation can use either Option A, in which students decide whether to sign the historical Constitution, or Option B, in which students decide whether to sign the student-generated constitution. They can also choose to do both lessons.

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

Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation

Popularly known as Constitution Annotated, this Senate Document encompasses the U.S. Constitution and analysis and interpretation of it, with in-text annotations of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. What began as an inclusion of the 1911 Senate Manual, is now almost 3,000 pages, and references more than 6,000 Supreme Court cases. The online version is updated regularly as new Supreme Court cases are decided. You can search or browse Constitution Annotated.

  • Resource Type: Books, 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

Interactive Constitution

On this site, constitutional experts interact with each other to explore the Constitution’s history and what it means today. For each provision of the Constitution, scholars of different perspectives discuss what they agree upon, and what they disagree about. These experts were selected with the guidance of leaders of two prominent constitutional law organizations—The American Constitution Society and The Federalist Society.

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

Constitutional Compromise Game

The Constitutional Compromise Game was designed specifically for teachers who don’t know what to do on Constitution Day. The game combines the skills of discourse, debate and compromise that were essential to the creation of the Constitution. Students work independently and in groups to solve Constitutional challenges and ratify the Constitution. This is a great activity for teachers who do not teach government or civics but need to satisfy the Constitution Day requirement.

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