Civic Art Project: From Her Beacon

Students will work collaboratively to create a mural of the Statue of Liberty to show the statue as a representation of freedom and a symbol of welcome to immigrants coming from other countries. This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students will read a poem and incorporate some of its ideas into their mural. Elementary and middle school students will incorporate words and phrases inspired by the statue into their mural. This activity supports Art, Social Studies, Civics, and English Language Arts standards and can be used as a cross-curricular project across these classrooms. Teachers across the curricula are encouraged to work together to bring this activity to life.

Grades K, 11, 1, 12, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Citizenship
Art

Balancing Religious Freedom and Government Interests

This lesson explores the Supreme Court case Tandon v. Newsom (2021) regarding religious liberty.Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government of California along with many of its county governments placed restrictions on gatherings of people. One of their regulations had the effect of preventing more than three households gathering together at a time for any in-home prayer and Bible studies. Plaintiffs sued the state, arguing that these restrictions violated the First Amendment since many secular businesses were allowed to have more than three households of people within it at any time, and that therefore religion was being specifically discriminated against. The Supreme Court recently released a per curiam (unsigned) decision concerning the constitutionality of these regulations.

Voices of History

Voices of History is a collection of eight Bill of Rights Institute curriculum resources including Being An American, Preserving the Bill of Rights, Founders and the Constitution, Supreme Court DBQs, Liberty and Security in Modern Times, Religious Liberty: An American Experiment, and Heroes and Villains. Teachers will have free access to each resources’ lessons plans and handouts.

Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Foundations of Democracy
Books

Declaration Revisited: Black Americans Podcast

This is the first of three revisits to the Declaration of Independence; three communities to which the tenets of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness did not apply. Byron Williams, author of The Radical Declaration, walks us through how enslaved Americans and Black Americans pushed against the document from the very beginning of our nation’s founding.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.

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

Defining Classroom Citizenship

The founders understood that, in order to preserve their liberty and happiness, and that of future generations, the foundation of successful self-government was citizens who understood and applied certain virtues. They constructed the U.S. Constitution according to their study of the principles and virtues that were most necessary to sustain a free, prosperous, and orderly society. This lesson is ideal for the first day of school.

Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment

The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.