Congress in a Flash! (Lesson Plan)

Need to teach the legislative branch in a hurry? This lesson is designed to cover the basics in a single class period. Students learn what Congress is, what the Constitution says about the legislative branch, and how a bill becomes law. They analyze some actual language from the Constitution, compare the House and the Senate, and simulate the lawmaking process by reconciling two versions of the same fictional bill. This lesson is one in a series entitled “The Legislative Branch.”

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Congress.gov

Congress.gov is the official source for federal legislative information. It provides access to information on legislation moving through Congress and the procedures used to move legislation through Congress, the activities of congressional committees, profiles of members of Congress and a glossary of terms used in the legislative process.

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

The YLI E-Congress Legislative Simulation

Looking for an interactive way to teach about the legislative branch? The Youth Leadership Initiative’s E-Congress program allows students to learn about Congress by writing original legislation and following it through the lawmaking process. Registration is required.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Lesson Plans, Quizzes, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Surveys
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitutional Index – All Legislative Powers Clause

The Constitutional Index breaks down the U.S. Constitution by Section, Amendment, and Clause and contains broader topics and themes. These are used to cross-reference Library resources in an effort to annotate constitutional history.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Making Law: A Legislative Simulation

This lesson is designed to give insights into the difficult decisions faced by legislators and to introduce students to one of the ways in which citizens can provide input to the legislative process. The lesson opens with analysis of a political cartoon. Students then take part in a simulated legislative hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

The Constitutional Convention: Composition of Congress

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students at the Constitutional Convention and asks them to construct a legislative branch for a proposed new government. Should there be one branch or two? Should each state get an equal voice in the legislative branch? By discussing and debating the various options, they will gain a deeper understanding of the choices the framers faced and why they opted for particular structures, ones we live with today.

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

How Our Laws Are Made

A text-based guide to the workings of Congress and the Federal lawmaking process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through its publication as a statute. As the majority of laws originate in the House of Representatives, the publication focuses principally on that body. This guide enables readers to gain a greater understanding of the Federal legislative process and its role as one of the foundations of the United States of America’s representative system of government.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

James Madison in the 1780s

This short video explores the impact of James Madison’s experiences in both the Continental Congress and the Virginia House of Delegates in shaping his views of government. Madison understood the nature of collective deliberation and the Constitution reflects his interest in and understanding of the legislative process. Professor Jack Rakove examines Madison’s concerns about the “passions and interests” of both citizens and legislative bodies.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 11, 12