Presenting Political Parties

Using the political cartoons of Clifford Berryman, this lesson, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, has students consider the impact of political parties on politics, government, lawmaking, and voters. The heavy focus here is on breaking down and interpreting some powerful primary sources to learn more about the role of political parties.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

How Political Parties Began

At first, our nation’s founders—including Hamilton, Jefferson, and others—believed political parties were evil and a threat to the new nation. But these early American leaders soon began to invent a new and essential role for political parties in a democracy.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Political Ideology in America: Bumper Sticker Politics

Americans love to personalize their vehicles in a way you will not see in many other countries. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, libertarians, socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution in Action: The Early Republic

This unit presents students with several such issues faced by Americans in the Early Republic as they tried to interpret and implement the Constitution. Lessons address “Origin of the Bill of Rights,” “Strict v. Loose Construction,” “Who Shapes Foreign Policy?” “State Challenges to Federal Authority: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions,” and “Political Parties and Presidential Electors: The Election of 1800.”

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

The Constitution in Action – Political Parties and Presidential Electors: The Election of 1800

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage in the politics of those times. Acting as either Federalists or Republicans, they will be asked to develop strategies for electing their party’s standard bearer as president, using the Constitution’s complex system of presidential electors to their advantage.

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

Debate Watching Guide

This lesson is designed to help students view political debates. The resources provided support the critical evaluation of the candidate’s performances. Body language, demeanor, appearance and positions on key issues are analyzed in an attempt to help students determine the importance of debates to the election cycle. This lesson could be used in class or as a homework assignment.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Editorial Cartoons, Essays, Lesson Plans, Surveys, Video
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12

Mandate: The President and the People

The complex relationship between the presidency and public opinion is examined by leading historians, political scientists and public figures who also offer insight into the office and its occupants from George Washington to FDR.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Early Presidents (CKHG Unit)

This unit (first half of Early Presidents and Social Reformers) focuses on the first seven presidents of the United States. Across 9 lessons, students learn about how the early presidents organized the federal government, built a national capital, directed a second war with Great Britain, more than doubled the size of the country, and formulated a “hands-off” foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Books, Descriptive Text, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8