Inauguration Day Resources

In this collection, you will find resources for teaching about the inauguration, news lessons surrounding the 2020 election, ways to help students engage in civil discourse, ideas for student civic engagement, strategies for discussing controversial issues in the classroom and more resources about the foundations of democracy and government.

The Troubled Elections of 1796 and 1800

George Washington won the first two U.S. presidential elections without being challenged. When he decided not to run for a third term in 1796, intense rivalries, political disputes, and attempted manipulations of the Electoral College came into play. These factors would again affect the 1800 election, essentially a rematch of 1796, pitting a sitting president, John Adams, against his own vice president, Thomas Jefferson.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Talking with Your Students About the Assault on the Capitol

The Constitutional Rights Foundation has created three classroom activities to help you and your students discuss abiding questions about the events of January 6 and the meaning of those events while encouraging thinking about the future of American democracy — and how to strengthen it. Students discuss hopes for the future, multiple perspectives on partisanship, and different headlines from the day after the assault on the Capitol.

Civics in Real Life: Sedition

Protest has a long history in the United States, especially in the U.S. Capital. Citizens have taken to the streets to express their disagreements with the actions or policies of the government. Whether it is advocating for civil rights, expressing opposition to abortion rights, or demonstrating support or opposition to a political candidate, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals the right to free speech, as well as the rights to peaceable assembly and to petition the government. Together, these add up to peaceful protest. But there may be times where protest becomes unlawful and slips over the line into sedition.
Other relevant Civics in Real Life lessons: Inching Toward Inauguation; Presidential Transition; Electoral College; Consent of the Governed. Grades 6-12. Florida Joint Center for Citizenship.

Grades 7-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

The History of Contested Presidential Elections

This lesson looks at the contested presidential elections occurring in 1800, 1824, 1876 and 2000. Using C-SPAN video clips, students will identify how each election was resolved and the consequences of these elections. They will apply this knowledge by describing similarities and differences between these examples and determining what lessons can be learned from these elections.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Presidential Transitions

This lesson has students explore the challenges that incoming administrations face during presidential transitions. Students will hear from historians and from White House staff to learn about previous presidential transitions and how the administrations worked together. With this information, students will develop a list of best practices that can be used during these transitions.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Electoral College Map Virtual Scavenger Hunt

This lesson has students explore C-SPAN’s online Historical Electoral College Map resource to learn about the process, history, and current patterns and trends relating to the Electoral College. This self-guided activity will have students use a series of online Electoral College maps and results from 1900 to 2016 to complete a virtual scavenger hunt. Students will use this resource to analyze maps and data to better understand how the Electoral College works.

Choice Board – How Effective Are Presidential Campaign Ads?

The methods in which candidates, political parties and interest groups promote their positions and policies have evolved since the first television campaign ads aired. In this lesson, students will view videos of historical presidential campaign advertisements and analyze the features found within each to determine the overall effectiveness.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Flaws of the Electoral College System

In this activity, students will trace the history of the Electoral College through analysis of primary source documents from the elections of 1789, 1800, 1824, and 1988 to identify four flaws with the system. An examination of proposed and implemented reforms, including the 12th Amendment, will engage students in a discussion of modifying or abolishing the Electoral College.

Grades 8, 9-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Primary Sources