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

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

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

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

Magna Carta: Cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution

Magna Carta served to lay the foundation for later declarations of rights in England and the United States. In attempting to establish checks on the king’s powers, this document asserted the right of “due process” of law. It also provided the basis for an idea of a “higher law,” one that could not be altered either by executive mandate or legislative acts. This concept, embraced by the leaders of the American Revolution, is embedded in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

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

Rules, Rules, Rules

In this lesson, students are asked to play a game – passing an object, such as an eraser – in which the rules are unclear and keep changing. Students are then asked to actively reflect on when and why rules are important and necessary. The leader might then connect rules of the game to the rule of law, and discuss the importance of law in our communities and in our society.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The History of Immigration Law in the United States

This lesson provides a background on the history of immigration policy in the United States, that is the philosophical origins, legal debates, and legal history from the Founding of the nation to the late 1900s. Students will come to understand how American lawmakers viewed immigrants and the reasoning behind the evolving nature of immigration policy.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12