Standard 1: Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and purposes of government, law, and the American political system.

General Information
Number: SS.7.C.1
Title: Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and purposes of government, law, and the American political system.
Type: Standard
Subject: Social Studies
Grade: 7
Strand: Civics and Government

Related Benchmarks

This cluster includes the following benchmarks.

Related Access Points

This cluster includes the following access points.

Independent

SS.7.C.1.In.a
Recognize that ideas of separation of powers and natural rights influenced the authors of the United States Constitution.
SS.7.C.1.In.b
Recognize influences on the colonists’ view of government, such as the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, and Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
SS.7.C.1.In.c
Identify concerns of the American colonists that led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence, such as taxation and laws of England.
SS.7.C.1.In.d
Identify complaints described in the Declaration of Independence, such as stationing soldiers in people’s homes, taxes, and cutting off trade with other countries.
SS.7.C.1.In.e
Identify a weakness of the Articles of Confederation that led to the writing of the Constitution, such as no president, a weak central government, and each state had its own money system.
SS.7.C.1.In.f
Identify the reasons for establishing a government listed in the Preamble of the United States Constitution.
SS.7.C.1.In.g
Identify examples of separation of powers in the Constitution, such as the three branches of government.
SS.7.C.1.In.h
Identify an argument for and against the inclusion of a bill of rights in the Constitution.
SS.7.C.1.In.i
Identify how the rule of law is used in American government, such as people must follow the laws of the government.

Supported

SS.7.C.1.Su.a
Recognize the United States Constitution was based on ideas from the past.
SS.7.C.1.Su.b
Recognize an influence on the colonists’ view of government, such as the Mayflower Compact.
SS.7.C.1.Su.c
Recognize that American colonists were unhappy with the way England was treating them and this led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
SS.7.C.1.Su.d
Recognize a complaint described in the Declaration of Independence, such as stationing soldiers in people’s homes, taxes, or cutting off trade with other countries.
SS.7.C.1.Su.e
Recognize that the Articles of Confederation had weaknesses and the Constitution replaced it.
SS.7.C.1.Su.f
Recognize that the Preamble of the United States Constitution states the reasons the government was created.
SS.7.C.1.Su.g
Recognize the powers of the branches of government of the United States.
SS.7.C.1.Su.h
Recognize a reason for inclusion of a bill of rights in the Constitution, such as the Bill of Rights is for all states.
SS.7.C.1.Su.i
Recognize that people must follow the laws of American government.

Participatory

SS.7.C.1.Pa.a
Recognize that ideas of people influence others.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.b
Recognize that ideas of people influence others.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.c
Recognize people in the American colonies were unhappy with the way England was treating them.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.d
Recognize people in the American colonies were unhappy with the way England was treating them.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.e
Recognize that government can be changed.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.f
Recognize a reason for government.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.g
Recognize that the government has different parts.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.h
Recognize that both individuals and groups have rights.
SS.7.C.1.Pa.i
Recognize that people must follow laws of government.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this topic.

Lesson Plans

How English policies and responses to colonial concerns led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students learn how English policies and responses to colonial concerns led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for SS.7.C.1.3.

  • Students will trace the causal relationships between English/British policies, English responses to colonial grievances, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
  •  Students will recognize the underlying themes of English colonial policies concerning taxation, representation, and individual rights that formed the basis of the American colonists’ desire for independence. 

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to SS.7.C.1.3, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources

Type: Lesson Plan

How Enlightenment ideas influenced the Founding Fathers:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students will recognize how Enlightenment thinkers, Montesquieu and Locke, influenced the Founding Fathers. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will identify and describe the Enlightenment ideas of separation of powers, natural law, and social contract.
  • Students will examine how Enlightenment ideas influenced the Founders’ beliefs about individual liberties and government.
  • Students will evaluate the influence of Montesquieu’s and Locke’s ideas on the Founding Fathers.

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources. 

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Tracing the impact of the Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Mayflower Compact and Thomas Paine's "Common Sense":

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students trace the impact that the Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Mayflower Compact, and Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" had on colonists' views of government. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will identify the important ideas contained in the Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Mayflower Compact, and Common Sense.
  • Students will evaluate the impact that the Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Mayflower Compact, and Common Sense had on the purposes of government.

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Analyzing the ideas and complaints set forth in the Declaration of Independence:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students analyze the ideas (natural rights, role of the government) and complaints set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will explain the concept of natural rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Students will identify the natural rights specifically expressed in the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
  • Students will analyze the relationship between natural rights and the role of government. 1. People are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; 2. Governments are instituted among men to secure these rights; 3. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; and 4. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.
  • Students will recognize the connection between specific grievances in the Declaration of Independence and natural rights’ violations.
  • Students will recognize colonial complaints as identified in the Declaration of Independence (imposing taxes without the consent of the people, suspending trial by jury, limiting judicial powers, quartering soldiers, and dissolving legislatures).

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

Type: Lesson Plan

How the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led to the writing of the Constitution :

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students learn how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led to the writing of the Constitution. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will explain the concept of natural rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Students will identify the natural rights specifically expressed in the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
  • Students will analyze the relationship between natural rights and the role of government. 1. People are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; 2. Governments are instituted among men to secure these rights; 3. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; and 4. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.
  • Students will recognize the connection between specific grievances in the Declaration of Independence and natural rights’ violations.
  • Students will recognize colonial complaints as identified in the Declaration of Independence (imposing taxes without the consent of the people, suspending trial by jury, limiting judicial powers, quartering soldiers, and dissolving legislatures).

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Interpreting the intentions of the Preamble:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students learn about the goals and purposes of United States government according to the Preamble of the Constitution. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will explain how the Preamble serves as an introduction to the U.S. Constitution, establishing the goals and purposes of government.
  • Students will identify the goals and purposes of government as set forth in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution (i.e., form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity).
  • Students will recognize that the intention of the phrase “We the People” means that government depends on the people for its power and exists to serve them.

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

How the Constitution limits the power of the government:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students learn how the Constitution limits the power of government through separation of powers and checks and balances. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will explain the concept of limited government as set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
  • Students will describe and distinguish between the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances.
  • Students will analyze how government power is limited by separation of powers and/or checks and balances.

Students will be able to recognize examples of separation of powers and checks and balances.

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Comparing viewpoints of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students compare the viewpoints of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists regarding the ratification of the Constitution and inclusion of a bill of rights. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will identify the viewpoints of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists about the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. 
  • Students will compare the viewpoints of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists about the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Students will recognize the Anti-Federalists’ reasons for the inclusion of a bill of rights in the U.S. Constitution. 

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standard, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

The “rule of law” and its impact on society:

In this lesson from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) students learn about the “rule of law” and its impact on society. Learning goals are based on the benchmark clarifications for the aligned standard.

  • Students will distinguish between the characteristics of a society that operates under the rule of law and one that does not.
  • Students will assess the importance of the rule of law in protecting citizens from arbitrary and abusive uses of government power.
  • Students will evaluate the impact of the rule of law on governmental officials and institutions (accountability to the law, fair procedures, decisions based on the law, consistent application, enforcement of the law, and transparency of institutions).

This resource includes a lesson plan, a “Civics on Demand” video for teachers that provides an introduction to the aligned standards, FJCC created civics assessment items and additional resources.

To access this resource, teachers will need to sign-in to the FJCC website when prompted. Creating an account is free. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorials

All About Impeachment: Part 2:

In Part 2 of this interactive tutorial series, learn about the impeachment process detailed in the U.S. Constitution, including what it is, who can be impeached, why someone would be impeached, and some famous examples of impeachment in action.   

This is Part 2 in a two-part series. Click HERE to open Part 1.

 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

All About Impeachment: Part 1:

In Part 1 of this interactive tutorial series, learn about the impeachment process detailed in the U.S. Constitution, including what it is, who can be impeached, why someone would be impeached, and a bit about the process.  

 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Judicial Review: Brought to You by Marbury v. Madison:

In this interactive tutorial, learn about the famous Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of judicial review.  You'll examine the details of the case and its important legacy in American history.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Federal Government: The Three Branches in Action :

In this interactive tutorial, you'll examine the powers and workings of the three branches of our federal government.  You'll learn what Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court really do.  Enjoy!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Understanding Rule of Law:

In this interactive tutorial, learn about one of the most important principles in American democracy: rule of law.  You'll explore this important concept and learn about its application to a famous Supreme Court decision: United States v. Nixon.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Three Branches: Check Yourself!:

In this interactive tutorial, explore the three branches of the U.S. federal government with a special emphasis on the checks and balances that allow our government to achieve a proper separation of powers.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Great Debate: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists:

In this interactive tutorial, you'll compare the viewpoints of the two groups on opposite sides of the great debate over ratifying the U.S. Constitution: Federalists and Anti-Federalists.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Britain vs. America: What Led to the Declaration of Independence:

In this interactive tutorial, learn why Great Britain and her 13 American colonies split between 1763 and 1776.  At the end of this time span, Britain and America were at war, and the Declaration of Independence had announced the United States of America as a brand new nation, no longer colonies of Britain.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Analyzing the Declaration of Independence :

In this interactive tutorial, you'll learn how to analyze the ideas, grievances (complaints), and language found in the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents in the history of the United States.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Understanding the Preamble :

Analyze the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution -- line by line, word by word -- in this interactive tutorial!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

From Confederation to Constitution:

Learn about the Articles of Confederation, our nation’s first written constitution, in this interactive tutorial.  You'll identify its major weaknesses and their consequences and explain the reasons why America's Founders replaced the Articles of Confederation with the government we still use today, the U.S. Constitution.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Three Branches of Government:

In this interactive tutorial, learn how to identify the three branches of the federal government as established by the Constitution of the United States.  You will also learn to identify the structure and function of each branch of government. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Enlightenment Ideas and the Founders:

Learn how Enlightenment ideas like separation of powers, natural law, and the social contract influenced the Founders and their design of the United States government in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Colonists: What Were They Thinking?:

Learn how several famous documents influenced the views of American colonists when they sought their independence from Great Britain and formed their own government. In this interactive tutorial, you'll learn about the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

How Are Laws Made?:

In this interactive tutorial, learn how a bill becomes a law. You will see how bills (ideas for laws) are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, and you'll learn how all three branches of government play a role in determining the laws of our land.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Tutorials

The Birth of the U.S. Constitution:

Learn about the birth of the U.S. Constitution in this tutorial video by Khan Academy and the Aspen Institute. You'll learn why the Constitution was needed and what its famous Preamble means. Referred to as a "bundle of compromises," the Constitution sought to create a government based on separation of powers and checks and balances.

Type: Tutorial

Checks and Balances:

In this tutorial, enjoy a short video describing how checks and balances work in our government! Our system of government is based on "checks" by each branch of government on the power of the others. In fact, the entire reason for this system is to prevent any one branch of government from becoming too powerful.

Type: Tutorial

Constitutional Principles - Consent of Governed:

In this tutorial you will view a short video on the constitutional principle of "consent of the governed." This principle was established by Enlightenment thinkers and influenced our Founding Fathers' ideas about government. Enjoy this brief review of this important concept!

Type: Tutorial

No More Kings! - Schoolhouse Rock:

In this tutorial, you can watch and sing along to a classic animated Schoolhouse Rock video all about the 13 colonies' separation from England. Enjoy this musical review about the colonists' grievances against King George III.

Type: Tutorial

Checks and Balances - Schoolhouse Rock:

In this tutorial, you can watch and sing along to a classic animated Schoolhouse Rock video all about checks and balances in our government. Enjoy this musical review!

Type: Tutorial

The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution:

In this tutorial, learn the real meanings of the different sections of the United States Constitution! You'll have a chance to click on all the parts of the Constitution--the Preamble, the Articles and the 27 amendments--and read the original text and a user-friendly summary that will help you understand the Framers' intentions. This tutorial is a one-stop shop. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Enlightenment Thinkers:

In this tutorial game, you will put your knowledge of Enlightenment thinkers and ideas to the test! Match the famous philosophers, such as John Locke and Montesquieu, to the ideas of theirs that helped influence the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Type: Tutorial

Constitution Preamble - Schoolhouse Rock:

In this tutorial, you can watch and sing along to an animated Schoolhouse Rock video all about the Constitution's Preamble. If you have trouble viewing the video, click the 'full screen' option.

Type: Tutorial

The Preamble Scramble:

Practice your knowledge of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution by playing The Preamble Scramble! This interactive game has you put the words of the Preamble in the right order like puzzle pieces.

Type: Tutorial

Federalist or Anti-Federalist?:

In this tutorial/game, you will test your knowledge of the viewpoints of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. These two groups had many heated debates over what exactly our new Constitution should look like and how the new American government would work. See how many you can get correct!

Type: Tutorial

Seven Principles of the U.S. Constitution:

In this tutorial, you will view a brief but informative video that explains the seven underlying principles of the U.S. Constitution. These seven principles include: checks and balances, federalism, individual rights, limited government, popular sovereignty, republicanism, and separation of powers. Enjoy this review!

Type: Tutorial

Constitution Board Game:

In this tutorial, you will challenge your knowledge about the U.S. Constitution. Roll the dice, move along the board and answer questions in order to determine how much of a "Constitutional Scholar" you really are! How many will you get correct?

Type: Tutorial

Freedom of Expression:

In this tutorial, you will view a video explaining how the failures of the Articles of Confederation led to the creation of our federal Constitution. You will learn how the Constitution was created and ratified, and how the resulting Bill of Rights led to the protection of certain freedoms - like our right to express ourselves. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Bill of Rights:

In this tutorial, you will view a video from the National Constitution Center that examines the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. This video identifies the reasons that led to the writing of the Bill of Rights and discusses the ratification process required to add these amendments to the Constitution. This video also examines how the Bill of Rights affects students like you!

Type: Tutorial

The Constitutional Convention:

In this tutorial, you will view a video about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 - when the Founding Fathers of our nation wrote the U.S. Constitution. This presentation explains who these "Framers" were, what their ideas meant, and what federalism and the separation of powers mean to us. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Presidency:

In this tutorial, you will view a video that explores the importance and history of the American presidency and the executive branch, provided by the National Constitution Center. This video contains great clips and highlights from recent presidential elections, as well as important information about the Constitution. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

Overview of the Legislative Process:

In this tutorial, you will watch a short video from Congress.gov that provides an overview of the lawmaking process. The focus is on the similarities and differences of the two houses of Congress and their role in crafting legislation (laws). This the first in a 9-part series of short videos, so if you like this one, you can view them all in sequence!

Type: Tutorial

Constitution 101: An Introduction & Overview to the U.S. Constitution:

This PowerPoint presentation explains the branches of the federal government created by the U.S. Constitution. It also describes the intentions of the Preamble, checks and balances, the struggle to ratify the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and other amendments.

Type: Tutorial

Inventing the American Presidency:

When the founders of the United States gathered to create the political foundation of our country, they decided on three branches of government, with an elected president central to the executive branch. This audio/visual presentation explains what led to the decision to create the presidency and the issues that were debated.

Type: Tutorial

The Bill of Rights: Interactive Quiz:

In this interactive tutorial game, you will put your knowledge of the Bill of Rights to the test! You will view a series of short videos and then answer multiple choice questions about the origins and impact of the first ten amendments. Good luck!

Type: Tutorial

The Making of the American Constitution:

This short video shows you how a meeting intended to revise the Articles of Confederation instead led to the formation of a new Constitution for the United States. Discover how a handful of Founding Fathers--working in sweltering heat and shrouded in secrecy--changed the course of history in Philadelphia in 1787.

Type: Tutorial

A Conversation on the Origin, Nature, and Importance of the Supreme Court:

In this tutorial video, Chief Justice John Roberts and a group of students discuss the Supreme Court: its history, how it selects and decides cases, and the role of an independent judiciary. You will learn about the constitutional powers of the courts, the role of judicial review, and a landmark Supreme Court case. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Legislative Process: How a Bill Becomes a Federal Law :

In this tutorial, you will view a video explaining how federal laws are made. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Pete Sessions explain the complex process of "how a bill becomes a law" to the students in their audience. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Role of the Courts:

In this tutorial, you will view a series of short videos about our judicial branch. In these videos, concepts such as separation of powers, judicial review, and checks and balances are discussed and explained by real judges. You will also be introduced to several landmark Supreme Court cases that have impacted American society and law. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

Sortify: U.S. Constitution:

In this tutorial game, you will sort "tiles" with facts and scenarios concerning the U.S. Constitution into labeled "bins." The purpose of this exercise is for you to become familiar with your Constitution and the government it establishes. Points are awarded for correctly sorted tiles – good luck!

Type: Tutorial

Branches of Power:

This tutorial game will give you the chance to "play" the roles of the three branches of government. Rather than simply learning about each branch in isolation, you will control each branch and learn how they interact. The goal is to move public policy issues from ideas to fully formed laws with the collaboration of all 3 branches.

Type: Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animation

A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution:

This 3-part video from Mount Vernon details the struggles that led delegates from the 13 colonies to hold a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. At this convention, under the leadership of George Washington, the delegates rejected the Articles of Confederation in favor of a new, stronger federal government. After the Constitution's ratification, Washington become the new nation's first president.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this topic.

Original Student Tutorials

All About Impeachment: Part 2:

In Part 2 of this interactive tutorial series, learn about the impeachment process detailed in the U.S. Constitution, including what it is, who can be impeached, why someone would be impeached, and some famous examples of impeachment in action.   

This is Part 2 in a two-part series. Click HERE to open Part 1.

 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

All About Impeachment: Part 1:

In Part 1 of this interactive tutorial series, learn about the impeachment process detailed in the U.S. Constitution, including what it is, who can be impeached, why someone would be impeached, and a bit about the process.  

 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Judicial Review: Brought to You by Marbury v. Madison:

In this interactive tutorial, learn about the famous Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of judicial review.  You'll examine the details of the case and its important legacy in American history.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Federal Government: The Three Branches in Action :

In this interactive tutorial, you'll examine the powers and workings of the three branches of our federal government.  You'll learn what Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court really do.  Enjoy!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Understanding Rule of Law:

In this interactive tutorial, learn about one of the most important principles in American democracy: rule of law.  You'll explore this important concept and learn about its application to a famous Supreme Court decision: United States v. Nixon.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Three Branches: Check Yourself!:

In this interactive tutorial, explore the three branches of the U.S. federal government with a special emphasis on the checks and balances that allow our government to achieve a proper separation of powers.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Great Debate: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists:

In this interactive tutorial, you'll compare the viewpoints of the two groups on opposite sides of the great debate over ratifying the U.S. Constitution: Federalists and Anti-Federalists.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Britain vs. America: What Led to the Declaration of Independence:

In this interactive tutorial, learn why Great Britain and her 13 American colonies split between 1763 and 1776.  At the end of this time span, Britain and America were at war, and the Declaration of Independence had announced the United States of America as a brand new nation, no longer colonies of Britain.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Analyzing the Declaration of Independence :

In this interactive tutorial, you'll learn how to analyze the ideas, grievances (complaints), and language found in the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents in the history of the United States.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Understanding the Preamble :

Analyze the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution -- line by line, word by word -- in this interactive tutorial!

Type: Original Student Tutorial

From Confederation to Constitution:

Learn about the Articles of Confederation, our nation’s first written constitution, in this interactive tutorial.  You'll identify its major weaknesses and their consequences and explain the reasons why America's Founders replaced the Articles of Confederation with the government we still use today, the U.S. Constitution.  

Type: Original Student Tutorial

The Three Branches of Government:

In this interactive tutorial, learn how to identify the three branches of the federal government as established by the Constitution of the United States.  You will also learn to identify the structure and function of each branch of government. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Enlightenment Ideas and the Founders:

Learn how Enlightenment ideas like separation of powers, natural law, and the social contract influenced the Founders and their design of the United States government in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Colonists: What Were They Thinking?:

Learn how several famous documents influenced the views of American colonists when they sought their independence from Great Britain and formed their own government. In this interactive tutorial, you'll learn about the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

How Are Laws Made?:

In this interactive tutorial, learn how a bill becomes a law. You will see how bills (ideas for laws) are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, and you'll learn how all three branches of government play a role in determining the laws of our land.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Tutorials

The Birth of the U.S. Constitution:

Learn about the birth of the U.S. Constitution in this tutorial video by Khan Academy and the Aspen Institute. You'll learn why the Constitution was needed and what its famous Preamble means. Referred to as a "bundle of compromises," the Constitution sought to create a government based on separation of powers and checks and balances.

Type: Tutorial

Checks and Balances:

In this tutorial, enjoy a short video describing how checks and balances work in our government! Our system of government is based on "checks" by each branch of government on the power of the others. In fact, the entire reason for this system is to prevent any one branch of government from becoming too powerful.

Type: Tutorial

Constitutional Principles - Consent of Governed:

In this tutorial you will view a short video on the constitutional principle of "consent of the governed." This principle was established by Enlightenment thinkers and influenced our Founding Fathers' ideas about government. Enjoy this brief review of this important concept!

Type: Tutorial

No More Kings! - Schoolhouse Rock:

In this tutorial, you can watch and sing along to a classic animated Schoolhouse Rock video all about the 13 colonies' separation from England. Enjoy this musical review about the colonists' grievances against King George III.

Type: Tutorial

Checks and Balances - Schoolhouse Rock:

In this tutorial, you can watch and sing along to a classic animated Schoolhouse Rock video all about checks and balances in our government. Enjoy this musical review!

Type: Tutorial

The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution:

In this tutorial, learn the real meanings of the different sections of the United States Constitution! You'll have a chance to click on all the parts of the Constitution--the Preamble, the Articles and the 27 amendments--and read the original text and a user-friendly summary that will help you understand the Framers' intentions. This tutorial is a one-stop shop. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Enlightenment Thinkers:

In this tutorial game, you will put your knowledge of Enlightenment thinkers and ideas to the test! Match the famous philosophers, such as John Locke and Montesquieu, to the ideas of theirs that helped influence the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Type: Tutorial

Constitution Preamble - Schoolhouse Rock:

In this tutorial, you can watch and sing along to an animated Schoolhouse Rock video all about the Constitution's Preamble. If you have trouble viewing the video, click the 'full screen' option.

Type: Tutorial

The Preamble Scramble:

Practice your knowledge of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution by playing The Preamble Scramble! This interactive game has you put the words of the Preamble in the right order like puzzle pieces.

Type: Tutorial

Federalist or Anti-Federalist?:

In this tutorial/game, you will test your knowledge of the viewpoints of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. These two groups had many heated debates over what exactly our new Constitution should look like and how the new American government would work. See how many you can get correct!

Type: Tutorial

Seven Principles of the U.S. Constitution:

In this tutorial, you will view a brief but informative video that explains the seven underlying principles of the U.S. Constitution. These seven principles include: checks and balances, federalism, individual rights, limited government, popular sovereignty, republicanism, and separation of powers. Enjoy this review!

Type: Tutorial

Constitution Board Game:

In this tutorial, you will challenge your knowledge about the U.S. Constitution. Roll the dice, move along the board and answer questions in order to determine how much of a "Constitutional Scholar" you really are! How many will you get correct?

Type: Tutorial

Freedom of Expression:

In this tutorial, you will view a video explaining how the failures of the Articles of Confederation led to the creation of our federal Constitution. You will learn how the Constitution was created and ratified, and how the resulting Bill of Rights led to the protection of certain freedoms - like our right to express ourselves. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Bill of Rights:

In this tutorial, you will view a video from the National Constitution Center that examines the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. This video identifies the reasons that led to the writing of the Bill of Rights and discusses the ratification process required to add these amendments to the Constitution. This video also examines how the Bill of Rights affects students like you!

Type: Tutorial

The Constitutional Convention:

In this tutorial, you will view a video about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 - when the Founding Fathers of our nation wrote the U.S. Constitution. This presentation explains who these "Framers" were, what their ideas meant, and what federalism and the separation of powers mean to us. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Presidency:

In this tutorial, you will view a video that explores the importance and history of the American presidency and the executive branch, provided by the National Constitution Center. This video contains great clips and highlights from recent presidential elections, as well as important information about the Constitution. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

Overview of the Legislative Process:

In this tutorial, you will watch a short video from Congress.gov that provides an overview of the lawmaking process. The focus is on the similarities and differences of the two houses of Congress and their role in crafting legislation (laws). This the first in a 9-part series of short videos, so if you like this one, you can view them all in sequence!

Type: Tutorial

Constitution 101: An Introduction & Overview to the U.S. Constitution:

This PowerPoint presentation explains the branches of the federal government created by the U.S. Constitution. It also describes the intentions of the Preamble, checks and balances, the struggle to ratify the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and other amendments.

Type: Tutorial

Inventing the American Presidency:

When the founders of the United States gathered to create the political foundation of our country, they decided on three branches of government, with an elected president central to the executive branch. This audio/visual presentation explains what led to the decision to create the presidency and the issues that were debated.

Type: Tutorial

The Bill of Rights: Interactive Quiz:

In this interactive tutorial game, you will put your knowledge of the Bill of Rights to the test! You will view a series of short videos and then answer multiple choice questions about the origins and impact of the first ten amendments. Good luck!

Type: Tutorial

The Making of the American Constitution:

This short video shows you how a meeting intended to revise the Articles of Confederation instead led to the formation of a new Constitution for the United States. Discover how a handful of Founding Fathers--working in sweltering heat and shrouded in secrecy--changed the course of history in Philadelphia in 1787.

Type: Tutorial

A Conversation on the Origin, Nature, and Importance of the Supreme Court:

In this tutorial video, Chief Justice John Roberts and a group of students discuss the Supreme Court: its history, how it selects and decides cases, and the role of an independent judiciary. You will learn about the constitutional powers of the courts, the role of judicial review, and a landmark Supreme Court case. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Legislative Process: How a Bill Becomes a Federal Law :

In this tutorial, you will view a video explaining how federal laws are made. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Pete Sessions explain the complex process of "how a bill becomes a law" to the students in their audience. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

The Role of the Courts:

In this tutorial, you will view a series of short videos about our judicial branch. In these videos, concepts such as separation of powers, judicial review, and checks and balances are discussed and explained by real judges. You will also be introduced to several landmark Supreme Court cases that have impacted American society and law. Enjoy!

Type: Tutorial

Sortify: U.S. Constitution:

In this tutorial game, you will sort "tiles" with facts and scenarios concerning the U.S. Constitution into labeled "bins." The purpose of this exercise is for you to become familiar with your Constitution and the government it establishes. Points are awarded for correctly sorted tiles – good luck!

Type: Tutorial

Branches of Power:

This tutorial game will give you the chance to "play" the roles of the three branches of government. Rather than simply learning about each branch in isolation, you will control each branch and learn how they interact. The goal is to move public policy issues from ideas to fully formed laws with the collaboration of all 3 branches.

Type: Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animation

A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution:

This 3-part video from Mount Vernon details the struggles that led delegates from the 13 colonies to hold a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. At this convention, under the leadership of George Washington, the delegates rejected the Articles of Confederation in favor of a new, stronger federal government. After the Constitution's ratification, Washington become the new nation's first president.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this topic.