Government Speech Under the First Amendment

This lesson teaches students, through a simulation related to government-sponsored Confederate monuments, about the government-speech doctrine under the First Amendment. In particular, this lesson aims to (1) introduce students to the issue of government speech; (2) teach the doctrine; (3) apply the doctrine in a contemporary context; and (4) critically analyze the doctrine.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9

Foundations of Democracy

This collection gives teachers access to foundational principles of democracies including rule of law, limited government and checks and balances. It can be used to build background knowledge to analyze the health of our democracy over time and in today’s environment.

Essential Questions include:

  • What systems attempt to limit government power?
  • Where does the government gain its authority in a democracy?
  • What is the rule of law and how does it play out in democracies?
  • What are ways of measuring the health of a democracy?
  • What recourses are in place to ensure the health of democracy?
  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12

Congress and the Creation of the Bill of Rights

Students will explore the protections and limitations on authority contained in the Bill of Rights and the process by which the First Congress created it. They will do this by compiling a list of their rights as students, analyzing the Bill of Rights, and studying primary source documents to trace the origin and development of the first ten amendments. Students will then consider how the Bill of Rights might be updated to reflect 21st century circumstances. (Duration: 30–90-minute segments, up to 5 hours.)

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Birth of American Democracy: Discourse, Debate and Compromise

In this exploration of American democracy students will follow the path to representative government by analyzing the tradition of discourse, debate, and compromise from Jamestown to Williamsburg and Philadelphia and finally to Washington. Students will determine the importance of debate and compromise for the development of a government by and for the people and also identify strategies for making their voices heard in government today.

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

Our American Government

Our American Government is a popular introductory guide for American citizens and those of other countries who seek a greater understanding of our heritage of democracy. The question-and-answer format covers a broad range of topics dealing with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our Government as well as the electoral process and the role of political parties. (House Document 108-94)

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

Exploring the United States Constitution eBook

Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of primary source documents in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution. These documents exemplify the workings of the three branches of the federal government as laid out in our Constitution. This eBook is available as a Multi-Touch book for iPad and Mac on iTunes, or for PC, Android devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or eReader with Scribd.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Engaging Congress Game

Engaging Congress is a fun, interactive game that uses primary source documents to explore the basic principles of representative government and the challenges they face in contemporary society.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government

Go on a learning adventure with Benjamin Franklin. Ben’s Guide is designed to inform students, parents, and educators about the workings of the Federal Government. Site content is divided into age levels. Lesson plans developed by the American Association of School Librarians are available, and games are also offered.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Games, Interactives
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Why Do People Form Governments?

This short lesson, targeting early elementary, is intended to introduce students to the concept of government and how one of the most important purposes of government is to keep us safe. Students will also be introduced to the Constitution and the three branches of government.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 1, 2, 3