The Constitution in Today’s America

This lesson will teach students about the development of the U.S. Constitution and its role in our system of government. Students will learn about the relationship between the Constitution and a democratic government. In the activities and lesson extensions, they will explore decisions made in the Constitution, including the creation of government institutions, and the purpose of the amendment process. Students also will write an essay in which they analyze how the Constitution helped to fulfill the promise of the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

The Constitutional Convention: To Sign or Not to Sign (Option A: The Historical Constitution)

NOTE: This lesson depends on a prior study of the Constitution Convention and the plan it produced, whether that study has been based on ConSource’s Constitutional Convention Simulation lessons or other curricula. Students will not be able to make a reasoned decision on whether to sign the Constitution unless they know what it is they are asked to endorse. Classes that have engaged in ConSource’s Constitutional Convention simulation can engage with both “To Sign or Not to Sign: Option A,” which asks students to cast a final vote on the Constitution of 1787, and “To Sign or Not to Sign: Option B,” which asks students to cast a final vote on the student-generated constitution.

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

Constitution Day

Make sure you have the resources you need to explore the Constitution with your class for Constitution Day! Check out our featured Constitution Day 2015 lesson plan “The Constitutional Convention” from Documents of Freedom – or utilize many of our other Constitution related lesson plans. We have complete classroom lessons for both middle school and high school classes that are sure to engage your students!

  • Resource Type: Books, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitutional Convention: To Sign or Not to Sign (Option B: Student-Generated Constitution)

NOTE: This lesson is for classes that have completed other components of ConSource’s Constitutional Convention Simulation unit. Classes that have not engaged with other lessons in this unit should use Option A, in which students decide whether to sign the historical Constitution. Teachers whose classes have participated in the ConSource simulation can use either Option A, in which students decide whether to sign the historical Constitution, or Option B, in which students decide whether to sign the student-generated constitution. They can also choose to do both lessons.

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

Constitution Homepage on DocsTeach.org

Locate primary sources from the holdings of the National Archives related to such topics as “checks and balances,” “representative government,” all 27 amendments, and other concepts found in the Constitution. This special home page devoted to the U.S. Constitution also features activities to share with students, such as “The Constitution at Work,” which uses primary sources to demonstrate the Constitution in action in our everyday lives.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Audio, Editorial Cartoons, Games, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Interactive Constitution

On this site, constitutional experts interact with each other to explore the Constitution’s history and what it means today. For each provision of the Constitution, scholars of different perspectives discuss what they agree upon, and what they disagree about. These experts were selected with the guidance of leaders of two prominent constitutional law organizations—The American Constitution Society and The Federalist Society.

  • Resource Type: Interactives
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitutional Compromise Game

The Constitutional Compromise Game was designed specifically for teachers who don’t know what to do on Constitution Day. The game combines the skills of discourse, debate and compromise that were essential to the creation of the Constitution. Students work independently and in groups to solve Constitutional challenges and ratify the Constitution. This is a great activity for teachers who do not teach government or civics but need to satisfy the Constitution Day requirement.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

230 Years of the United States Constitution

The Constitution has stood as both the plan for the American system of government and through its 27 amendments, a summary of the political values of generations of Americans. This resource has been assembled to help teachers and anyone interested in the Constitution better understand and appreciate it, using the document itself and other original works contemporaneous with it.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Our Constitution

The Our Constitution book, written by Donald A. Ritchie and JusticeLearning.org, takes an in-depth look at the Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Included are texts of primary source materials, sidebar material on each article and amendment, profiles of Supreme Court cases, and timelines. The complete book or individual chapters can be downloaded.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12