Constitutional Principles Videos

The Constitutional Principles Videos are engaging presentations that detail the principles upon which the Constitution of the United States was founded and how each principle is important and relative to our understanding of the Constitution today. Presentations address the principles of Separation of Powers, Consent of the Governed, Rule of Law, and Representative Government in a Republic.

Letter to James Madison

This letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in September, 1789 focuses on human rights and the principles of every government. The question: Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government. The course of reflection in which we are immersed here on the elementary principles of society has presented this question to my mind and that no such obligation can be transmitted I think very capable of proof.

Grades 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Primary Sources

Constitution: Analyze – Explore – Music

Students will engage in a study of the Constitution to learn about the nature and structure of the United States. The Constitution will be analyzed and discussed as a primary source to understand the form of government and principles of the U.S. This lesson provides students an opportunity to explore how the government works and what the Constitution means to them today. Students will create a song to demonstrate understanding of the Constitution and nature of the U.S. government. Constituting America has a song contest teachers may want to integrate with this lesson plan.

Grades 7-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

The Constitutional Convention

 In this lesson, students will use C-SPAN video clips to examine the founding principles that emerged from the Constitutional Convention as well as hear about some of the people who participated. Students will use this information to analyze the role the compromise played in the creation of the Constitution.

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.

Foundations of Democracy: Lesson Plans & Resources

Teach the Foundations of Democracy

This Share My Lesson collection provides teachers with free lesson plans and resources on the 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.

Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

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.

Grades 9-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Games