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

Judicial Independence: Essential, Limited, Controversial

In a constitutional system of government, the role of the judiciary is essential for maintaining the balance of power, protecting individual rights, upholding the rule of law, interpreting the Constitution, and ensuring equal justice for all. In this lesson, students learn about the role of an independent judiciary in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Environmental Laws Timeline Activity

Students will have to select 25 environmental laws in American history from a much larger list. Their goal is to produce their own timeline of American environmental law history to present to the rest of the class. In doing so, they will develop critical thinking and analytic skills and articulate the importance of the Rule of Law to protecting the environment.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Making Our Fourth Amendment Right Real

This lesson plan is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “Search and Seizure: Mapp v. Ohio,” which explores the landmark search-and-seizure case that makes state governments also responsible for protecting our Fourth Amendment right. With the exclusionary rule, this right becomes real for all of us.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A Conversation on Search and Seizure

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and a group of high school students discuss the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure and the importance of the exclusionary rule. This video complements the documentary Search and Seizure: Mapp v. Ohio.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Library Lion

CRFC’s Primary VOICE program is a collection of lessons and tools that help second- and third-grade teachers connect civic learning with the essential skills of reading, writing, and speaking and is funded by the Polk Bros. Foundation. This activity focuses on Governance and helps students learn about the rule of law.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4

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.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Books, Closed Captions, Editorial Cartoons, Essays, Media, Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12