Landmark Lessons

Find lesson plans generated by teachers who completed the Cultures of Independence workshop at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The lessons illustrate how local and national history can be taught through a focus on a physical place and primary sources. Criteria for selecting lessons also included the teaching of historiography and, when appropriate, connections to the founding principles of the United States. Use a lesson from your region, or become inspired to create your own.

Civic Art Project: Considering Leadership

The materials in this curriculum packet are designed to be a classroom resource, a guide to think about the qualities of good leadership, and a creative prompt to create a political poster representing leadership and sharing a vision for the future. Teach your students about elections, help them consider issues that matter to them, and watch as they lend their voices to our national conversation about leadership.

Civic Art Project: Notes on the Constitution

Students create art works based on an examination of the language of the Constitution and the personal connections they make. These art works will incorporate words, illustrations, and mixed media images.
This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students can use an abridged version of the U.S. Constitution. Elementary and middle school students can use the Preamble, or introduction, to the Constitution.

Civic Art Project: From Her Beacon

Students will work collaboratively to create a mural of the Statue of Liberty to show the statue as a representation of freedom and a symbol of welcome to immigrants coming from other countries. This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students will read a poem and incorporate some of its ideas into their mural. Elementary and middle school students will incorporate words and phrases inspired by the statue into their mural. This activity supports Art, Social Studies, Civics, and English Language Arts standards and can be used as a cross-curricular project across these classrooms. Teachers across the curricula are encouraged to work together to bring this activity to life.

Second Amendment: D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago

The film “Second Amendment: D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago” examines the history of guns and gun ownership in our society from the Revolutionary War to modern times and the complicated debate over what the founders intended when they wrote the Second Amendment. Does it protect a right of individuals to keep and bear arms? Or is it a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard? 

Court Shorts: Jury Service, Hands-on Justice

Jury service is an example of hands-on participation in democracy. In a five-minute video, 11 federal judges talk about jury service as an opportunity for citizens to be part of the judicial process that has an impact on daily life. The video, which deals with Constitutional principles and the practicalities of jury service, is part of the Court Shorts video series that includes installments on the rule of law and separation of powers.

Women & the American Story: A Nation Divided, 1832-1877

This free curriculum unit from the New-York Historical Society delves into the ways women participated in all aspects of the Civil War and on both sides of the conflict, from the early debate over the expansion of slavery through the end of federal Reconstruction. Materials examine this pivotal moment in American history through the experiences of diverse women and consider how the war and then Reconstruction policies shaped their lives.

Women & the American Story: Settler Colonialism and the American Revolution, 1692-1783

This free curriculum unit from the New-York Historical Society explores the active and engaged role that 18th century women played in colonial and revolutionary America. Materials consider how women experienced and were integral to settler colonial society, as well as the ways they participated in political discourses surrounding the American Revolution.

Grades 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Media