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Constitution Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

US Constitution image credit:

US Constitution image credit:

Need some help with your American History lessons? Take a peek at my lesson plans and ideas.

My first year teaching I was dying to see other teachers' plan books, but most of them were either blank or didn't seem suitable for our students ("high-risk" with poor reading skills). After teaching American history to 8th graders for a few years, I've developed this webpage in the hopes that it can help first year teachers get an idea of what to do, or help out some experienced teachers freshen up some lessons. Just to let you know, my "at-risk" students have the same passing rate on the history portion of the state standardized exam as the "advanced" students.

Below are my weekly lessons for Weeks 13 - 16: Our Constitution. Please see my other lenses to see my complete lesson plan book. Please visit my Procedures and General Ideas for 8th Grade American History to see my classroom set up, procedures, grading, use of textbook, exam ideas, etc.

Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation

Week 13: Day 2: Articles of Confederation

What type of government did America first have and why did it fail?

***Week 13 continues from the American Revolution Unit.***

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What were all four (North, South, East, West) boundaries of the U.S. at independence in 1783? [Answer: According to the 1783 Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain acknowledged American independence, the new nation's boundaries were the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the state of Florida and the latitude line of 31 degrees North. (The North boundary is optional.)]

Objective: What type of government did America first have and why did it fail?

Homework: Get agenda signed.

1. A) Do you think most people lock their front doors at night? B) What does your answer say about how much people trust each other? (Teacher explanation: The Founding Fathers figured all people were naturally trustworthy and created a government based on that belief, but they found people aren't inherently good. Thus, the government didn't work.)

2. Review exam

3. Make "Unit III: Our Constitution" cover page

4. Notes:

o Students copy "Shifting Balance of Political Power" from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation)

o Articles of Confederation: In the middle write, "Congress." Around "Congress" draw an upset looking man. Draw six arrows coming out from his head. Next to the arrows write one of the following: foreign relations (draw a globe), war (draw a musket), Native American affairs (draw a Native American), Postal Service (Draw a letter), and Coin and borrow money (draw money). Draw two thought bubbles from the upset man's head. In one bubble write, "I can't raise taxes." In the other bubble write, "I can't regulate commerce (business) or settle fights between states." Explain each of these items as you write them. There are some good historic examples out there. To exaggerate the point, talk about how New Jersey is the only state that can grow cabbage. In New Jersey they sell cabbage for $1 a head. In order to make money, they sell it to other states for $15 a head. The national government can't do anything about it.

5. Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation: Lay out posters with a picture and explanation of: No chief executive, Laws needed approval by 9 of 13 states, Congress did not have the power to tax citizens and could only request tax money from states, Congress did not have the power to draft an army and could only request states to send men for military service, No national court system, Any amendments/changes to the Articles must be approved by all 13 states, Congress did not have the power to collect state debts owed to the federal government, and Congress did not have the power to settle disputes among states. Hand out sheets that have the feature already entered in the chart along with other columns: Why this was included in the Articles of Confederation and Possible Problems with the Feature. Have every other square pre-filled out so that they only have to either fill in the "Why this was included" or "Possible Problems" for each feature rather than having them fill out both. Students fill out the chart, with each student pair moving every 2 1/2 minutes.

6. Discuss overhead of p. 219 from This is America's Story (Wilder, Ludlum, and Brown) comparing the Confederation and Constitution and showing how the Constitution solved those problems.

7. WRAP-UP: CONFESSIONS ABOUT OUR CONFEDERATION: You are writing a front-page newspaper article trying to explain to American citizens the way their new government works. Include at least 4 new aspects to the government and two problems that you see might cause issues in the future. Include one drawing as well.

Failure of the Articles of Confederation image credit:

Failure of the Articles of Confederation image credit:

Week 14: Day 1: Failure of Articles of Confederation

What finally caused our Founding Fathers to create our current government?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which President first declared Thanksgiving a national holiday? [Answer: Abraham Lincoln in 1863]

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What was the last state to ratify the Constitution? [Answer: Rhode Island. The required nine of the thirteen states ratified the Constitution between January and June 1788. But it was not until after Washington was inaugurated in 1789 that all of the states ratified it. The last stragglers were North Carolina in November 1789 and Rhode Island in May 1790.]

Objective: What finally caused our Founding Fathers to create our current government?

1. a) What does "authority" mean? B) Do you think people in authority are always helpful, always harmful, or both? C) WHY? Give 3+ examples to prove it.

2. Quickly discuss the issue of Congress trying to develop the Northwest Territory using the picture from p. 140 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation).

3. Creating a Coat of Arms activity: Apply the decision-making process of the Articles of Confederation to adopt a "Coat of Arms." (from "The Constitution in a New Nation.")

4. T-chart: Classroom activity vs. historical reality: 13 teams = 13 states, each team gets 1 vote (no matter how big) = each state gets 1 vote (no matter how big), tried to create coat of arms = Congress tried to make laws like how to develop the Northwest Territory, needed 9 of 13 teams to pass coat of arms = needed 9 of 13 states to pass laws, looking out for our own benefit (extra credit) = states looking out for themselves rather than for interests of the nation, coat of arms never passed = few laws ever passed, game was unfair = citizens not satisfied because the government is too weak

5. Read pp. 235-239: The Call for Change & answer chapter questions (15 minutes)

6. Powerpoint slide lecture: Study images of Shays' Rebellion, Independence Hall, Washington addressing the Constitutional Convention, and the Constitution. For each slide, ask students questions to notice details about the picture and then talk to them about it. Students write the title of the slide and 3+ notes.

7. As a class, write out notes: "Leading to the Constitutional Convention." Turn papers the long way. Write each of the following down the side: Too many taxes, Failing crops left farmers impoverished, Poor foreign relations, Boundary disputes between states, Shay's Rebellion. Draw an arrow from each of these items to the next item, "Many Americans worried about Confederation's ability to maintain order." Draw an arrow from this to, "Madison and Hamilton persuaded Congress to consider revising government." Draw an arrow from this to, "Delegates from states met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA." Draw an arrow from this to, "After discussion, delegates agreed to abandon Articles of Confederation and create new Constitution."Note: Not all classes had time for this step, so skip it if the Coat of Arms game goes too long.

8. WRAP-UP: ACROSTIC POEM: Write an acrostic poem describing the "Articles of Confederation" using the word "Articles." OR Have students write an acrostic poem for "Articles of Confederation" and give extra credit for poems that rhyme. If you do this, have students finish the poems for homework.



Week 14: Day 2: Constitutional Compromises

What compromises were made to create our government?

Objective: What compromises were made to create our government?

Homework: Get agenda signed

1. In 4+ sentences describe a time when you had to make a compromise. (Need to explain what a compromise is.)

2. Define Virginia Plan, NJ Plan, Great Compromise, 3/5 Compromise by book (12 minutes)

3. Powerpoint lecture of the Compromises of the Constitution:

o Introduce analogy after VA & NJ plans but BEFORE 3/5 Compromise.

o Take notes on each compromise in the following manner: "PROBLEM" (under it write the problem that needed to be solved). Draw an arrow pointing to "PROPOSAL" (Above "PROPOSAL" write one of the proposals and an arrow pointing down to "PROPOSAL." Below "PROPOSAL" write the other main proposal and an arrow pointing up to "PROPOSAL"). Draw an arrow pointing from "PROPOSAL" to "COMPROMISE" (under it write the name and description of the compromise made. Do the Great Compromise with the class, but have them do the other two on their own (with help).

-----PROBLEM: How should the states be represented in Congress? PROPOSALS: New Jersey Plan: Each state should get equal representation (2 votes)…Virginia Plan: Base it on population: larger states get more votes. COMPROMISE: Great Compromise: Divide Congress into 2 houses: Rep. in Senate is equal (2 votes) & Rep. in House of Reps based on population.

-----PROBLEM: How should slaves be counted in the states' population? PROPOSALS: Northern States: Count slaves for taxes but not for rep. in the House....Southern States: Count slaves for rep. but not for taxes. COMPROMISE: 3/5 Compromise: 3 out of 5 slaves will be counted for both taxes and rep. in House

-----PROBLEM: What should be done about the slave trade? PROPOSALS: North: Congress should control the slave trade. Runaway slaves should be freed... South: Each state should decide for themselves about the slave trade & runaway slaves should be returned. COMPROMISE: Congress will control the slave trade. Slave trade will end in 20 years. Runaway slaves must be returned.

o Analogy: Problem: What should the theme of the 8th grade dance be? Proposals: Enchanted Memories OR Barney and his friends. How do we decide? We'll vote by homerooms. I have 24 kids in my homeroom, 2 of which are 7th graders. Ms. Tracy has 10 kids in her homeroom, all of whom are 8th graders, Mrs. Shannen has 39 in her homeroom, 15 of which are 7th graders, Mr. Jamie has 16 in his, with no 7th graders. Does each homeroom get 1 vote? (NJ plan) Does each homeroom get a set number of votes depending upon their size? (VA plan) Do the 7th graders (slaves) count in the vote?

4. WRAP-UP: POLITICAL POSTER: Select either the Virginia or New Jersey Plan. Create a poster trying to convince the other states to vote for that plan. Include what the plan says and at least 3 reasons the states should vote for that plan. Also include a visual aid to help people remember that plan.

History of Our Constitution

US Constitution

US Constitution

Week 15: Day 1: Constitution

What does the Constitution say?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the first state admitted to the union after the original 13? [Answer: Vermont in 1791, created from parts of New York and New Hampshire]

Objective: What does the Constitution say?

1. Study the cartoon on the overhead. A) Of the compromises you learned about in the last class, which compromise does this represent? B) How did you know this? C) What was the problem that this compromise was trying to resolve?

2. Define: legislative branch, executive branch, judicial branch, impeach, electoral college, veto from textbook (8 minutes)

3. 3 Branches of Government notes: Draw a tree with 3 branches. On the trunk write, "Our Constitution = Our Government." On the first branch write, "LEGISLATIVE." Under that write, "law-making." At the top of the branch have the trunk divide into two smaller branches. In one branch write, "Senate." In the other branch write, "House of Representatives." Above this write, "Congress." At the base of the entire branch write, "Article I." On the second branch write, "EXECUTIVE." Under that write, "enforce laws." At the top of the branch write, "President." Under the branch write, "Article II." On the third branch write, "JUDICIAL." Under that write, "Judgement." At the top of the branch write, "Supreme Court." Under the branch write, "Article III."

4. Constitutional Card Sort Game: Analyze 25 constitutional questions about the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Number 25 cards and then write a different question aboout the Constitution on each card. Pass out a question to each pair of students and put the rest of the questions on a table in the front of the room. Each pair answers the question on the card by looking up the answer in the Constitution. After they find the answer, they write down the answer in a complete sentence along with the Article and Section in which they found the answer. Then they go to the front of the room and exchange cards. The pair to get the most correct answers in 40 minutes gets extra credit. (Students will not finish all 25 questions.)

Questions can include: Who has the sole power of impeachment (removing someone from office)?, How old must one be to be elected to the United States Senate?, Who has the power to declare war?, Who is the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military forces?, Who presides over any impeachment trial of the president of the United States?

5. Students write preamble on note card for exam. Be sure to tell them it will be fill-in-the-blank on the exam.

Good resources on explaining the Constitution!!

Week 15: Day 2: Constitution

What does the Constitution say?

Objective: What does the Constitution say?

1. In 3+ sentences describe a very stressful or very exciting event AND how you felt after it was over.

2. Create a "Quick Guide" to the Constitution. Next to each Article, write the topic of that article and add a relevant picture to help you remember what is contained there.

3. Watch a section of video on Constitution.

4. Watch "School House Rock" video on preamble of Constitution. The entire class should sing along using their note cards. (The teacher should always be the loudest singer no matter how poor his/her voice.)

5. Write out the Preamble in phrases. For each phrase, draw a picture of each phrase to help you remember that phrase.

School House Rock Preamble

Constitutional government

Constitutional government

Week 15: Day 3: Bill of Rights

What rights do we have?

Objective: What rights do we have?

Homework: Finish worksheet & get agenda signed

1. List 3+ ways in which the Constitution is similar to a DVD player or computer instruction manual.

2. Answer questions for pp. 244-247. Federalist vs. Anti-federalist notes: Create a T-chart with Federalists vs. Antifederalists. Under "Federalists" write, "Favor Constitution, Strong National Government, and James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay (Wrote The Federalist Papers). Draw a smiley face, up arrow, and thumbs-up sign below these. Under "Antifederalists" write, "Against passing the constitution, Limited national government (with strong states rights), Patrick Henry and John Hancock." Draw an unhappy face, down arrow, and thumbs-down below these. Be sure to mention that this issue will again come up in less than 100 years and will divide the country in the War Between the States.

3. Begin powerpoint slide lecture of Bill of Rights (only Amendment 1): Examine 10 images depicting individual rights and identify the corresponding amendments. Use overheads from pp. 161-162 in Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation) and from the textbook. You can also get good images from .

[See below for my lecture notes on the Bill of Rights: Amendment 1.]

4. Worksheet on Federalists vs. Anti-federalists

5. Pass out extra credit worksheet to students who want it. It included notes taken from James Madison at the Constitutional Convention concerning the slave trade and sections from Patrick Henry's speech before he agreed to ratify the constitution.


Amendment 1: a) Note "freedom of expression" isn't found here. I hear students all the time talking about how school dress codes infringe upon their "freedom of expression" which "is a constitutional right." It's not here, so don't sound ignorant by claiming it is. b) Part of the first amendment is the freedom of religion. Note "separation of church and state" isn't in the Constitution. That's another phrase I hear tossed around all the time as another "constitutional right." That phrase came from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote, not the Constitution, and it's meaning was totally different from what it gets used for today. By the way, Thomas Jefferson wasn't there when they wrote the Constitution. When the Founding Fathers were writing the first amendment saying "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" they were trying to make sure that Congress didn't make a law saying, "If you're not Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever, you can't vote for the President." What was most important to them was they wanted to make sure that governments didn't start controlling churches like what was happening in England . Then we'd be getting sermons on Sunday on why to vote for this person or that person in the government. They were protecting "religions" (the various Christian denominations) from the government. They were not, however, trying to keep any government institution "free" from religion. This has been twisted the other way around. For example, praying in schools and posting the 10 Commandments in the courts are forbidden because supposedly those things would show that the government is supporting one religion over the other. Therefore, the only religion (and it is a religion) that's allowed in government buildings is atheism. The government is telling people that they can't practice their religion when they're in a government building. If the government was to be consistent with what the Founding Fathers intended, then people could pray to their "god/God," display their tenets of faith, etc., and the government would make sure that they were allowed to do these things. Back to the phrase, "separation of church and state." If you haven't ever heard that phrase, trust me, you'll hear it misused in the next few years. It's a phrase pulled from a private letter Thomas Jefferson was writing to some students at the University of Virginia . He was encouraging them to get together and pray and worship God at their university.

Great Books on the Bill of Rights



Week 16: Day 1: Bill of Rights (Continued)

What rights do I have?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which document contains more signatures, The Declaration of Independence or The Constitution? How many more signatures did it have? [Answer: Declaration of Independence - 17]

Objective: What rights do I have?

Homework: Finish drawing Bill of Rights

1. Study the powerpoint slide. A) Which amendment do you think this slide represents? B) Why? C) What other rights does this amendment say we have?

2. Finish Bill of Rights slide lecture (amendments 2-10). Starting by reviewing the first amendment. Give students 15 minutes to write in summary of amendment and draw a picture for it. Have students write in headings for amendments 2-10 as I lecture. (I use p. 34 from the Student Activities Book that's part of Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877). (My lecture notes are below and then continue to the below module.)

3. Drawing Bill of Rights: draw a picture for amendments 2-10. Finish for homework.


Amendment 2: This is a big one the government is trying to crack down on. It's pretty evident what it says: people have the right to own guns. It's a way of protecting themselves. Today a lot of people claim that in the places where people are allowed to have guns, you have more crime. Actually studies show the opposite is true. The more that people have guns, the less likely a burglar or thief is going to want to mess with that person. That's kind of beside the point, though. Let's say that America makes a law that only people who work for the government (the army and the policemen) can have guns. Would that make you feel safer? What happens when armies start coming to your home and point the guns and you? They take away your stuff and tell you that you have to start working on a farm for the rest of your life -- and all the vegetables you grow will go back to the governemnt. You only get to eat one piece of bread and an egg every day for the rest of your life. You think that sounds bizarre? It happened about 75 years ago. Ridding citizens of their guns was one of the first things Hitler's and Stalin's governments did. One of the first things Hitler took from the Jews was their guns. Then the Jews couldn't defend themselves when the government armies came to steal from them and/or kill them. Our forefathers knew that. It happened in Boston when the British government "seized the armories." That's what they were doing: making sure the citizens couldn't have guns to defend themselves. If the government's the only ones allowed to have guns, then they can make all the decisions for you and force us to do things we don't want to do.

Amendment 3: I don't have anything additional.

Bill of Rights Visual

Bill of Rights Visual

Week 16: Day 2: Lecture Notes for Amendments 4-10

Amendment 4: The government can't search you without a search warrant. That means when you start driving and a police officer stops you, he can't search your car. You need to be polite, but he's not allowed. Now if the police officer says, "I want to check your vehicle," and you say, "Okay" then s/he can search your vehicle. However, if the police officer says, "I want to search your vehicle. Open your trunk." You can POLITELY reply, "I'm sorry officer, but you will need a search warrant to do that. It's my forth amendment right." Now if you or someone in your car seems "suspicious" like the smell of alcohol is flowing out the window or something like that, then the officer can check out your car. This amendment is definitely getting tossed out the back window at the airport. When I flew over Christmas, they opened up all my bags and dug through all the pouches. I had to take off my shoes, empty my pockets, and get patted down. That should be illegal, but it's not. According to this amendment, I can refuse to let them search me. But what would happen if I claimed my right? They'd refuse to let me fly! This amendment is definitely not being held up today.

Amendment 5: a) After September 11 a bunch of American citizens of Arab decent were kidnapped by the FBI. They were eating dinner with their families or returning home from work. The FBI would knock on their doors and take them to jail. They were held there for months without ever being told why there were being arrested. The government CAN do that to people who aren't citizens. People who aren't citizens can't claim the freedoms we have in the Constitution, but these people were citizens. This was illegal. They needed to have been told why they were being arrested. Since the FBI didn't have a reason to arrest them, then they shouldn't have been arrested to begin with. Don't think it's too far away. Here in Houston teenagers liked to drag race down Westheimer Road . They'd meet up in the parking lot at a 24-hour K-Mart and then race off. The police were getting complaints, so the head of the police department decided to crack down on it one night. He sent the police to arrest anyone "trespassing" in the K-Mart parking lot at midnight . Well, the police officers didn't really like the head of the police department, so they decided to take things too far. They arrested every single person at K-Mart who wasn't an employee. They even entered the store and took people out who were shopping! They took little old ladies, parents, teenagers, and moms with babies! They then took everyone to the police department and kept them there overnight. These people had no idea why they were being arrested. Most of the people weren't doing anything illegal. Sometimes I go to the Wal-Mart across the street from that K-Mart around midnight to pick up something on my way home from meeting with friends. That could have been me! Now all these people will have to say they've been arrested whenever they fill out application. The Fifth Amendment is supposed to protect you from such a thing.

b) For any of you that watch "Law and Order" or "The Practice" - type shows, you may have heard someone say, "I plead the 5th." What they're saying is that they know what the Fifth Amendment says, and they're claiming that freedom. The Fifth Amendment says that you don't have to admit to something that could get you into trouble. Let's say you robbed a store. They put you on trial and ask you, "Did you rob that store?" You can say, "I plead the 5th," and the jury or judge just has to act like the question was never asked. Just to let you know, this right doesn't carry over into your families. When your parent asks what you were doing out so late at night, you can't say, "I plead the 5th" and expect to get away scott free.

c) Another area where the government is ignoring this amendment is when it talks about how the government can't take someone's property without just compensation. My husband's grandparents live in a gorgeous house in North Florida . They bought it just after getting married in the 1930s. It used to be out in the country. The town grew up around the house, and pretty soon businesses were popping up all around their home. Pretty soon I-10 ran close by. The state decided they wanted to extend the interstate through their back yard where my husband's grandparents had a marvelous greenhouse filled with orchids, hibiscus, and other flowers. The state offered to buy the property from them at a really low price. My husband's grandparents refused to sell it. The government then "condemned" the property. They can do that to protect neighborhoods. For instance, when a building hasn't been lived in for decades and it's infested with rats and homeless people start living in it and such, the government can condemn the property, meaning, they declare that the person who owns the property isn't taking care of it, and people could get hurt if they enter in the building. They can then knock down the building and make the area safer. Well, the state of Florida declared that my husband's parent's greenhouse wasn't safe! Do you know why? They could then knock it down and build their interstate and they didn't even have to pay my husband's grandparents for it. This happens too frequently. People even take it to court and are losing. Imagine if the government decided they wanted to build a road or even a new mall where your house is. They offer to pay your parents a small sum of money. Your parents refuse, so the government condemns the property and you are all kicked out without getting any money at all. Our government is ignoring that they're not allowed to take our stuff without giving us a fair price for it.

Amendment 6: I don't have anything additional.

Amendment 7: Just to let you all know, whenever you go to court, you can request a trial by jury. I don't know if any of you have accompanied your parents when they go to court for speeding tickets. Most of the time you just walk up to the judge and claim you're guilty and request to go to driving school (if you haven't already done that), and then you pay your fine and off you go. If you wanted to, you could tell the judge you're not guilty. S/he'll then ask if you want a trial with just a judge or a trial by jury. Even for something as small as a traffic ticket, you can request a trial by jury.

Amendment 8: The government's not allowed to punish you unfairly for a crime. This is going on a lot these days with big companies. For instance, the tobacco companies were brought to court, and the judges decided they were guilty of encouraging people to participate in an unhealthy habit. They were fined something like $486 trillion dollars! No, they don't have money like that sitting around. They'll be paying that off for decades. Plus, they have to pay for ads to discourage people from buying their products. How many of you have seen the commercials where they show how many people are dying from smoking? Cigarette companies have to pay for those commercials. I'm not saying that smoking is good, but first, people are responsible for their own actions. Second, that is a huge amount of money. In my opinion, that was way too harsh. This is also where people debate about capitol punishment: putting people to death for really bad crimes. Some people think that's too harsh.

Amendment 9: I don't have anything additional.

Amendment 10: This one's coming up today in regards to same sex marriages. A few states have legalized same sex marriages. Lots of states are complaining and saying that shouldn't be allowed. They're requesting that the national government tell these states that same-sex marriages are not allowed. Well, is it the national government's business? The 10th amendment says that if the constitution doesn't say that Law X is something that the national government gets to control, then the states get to make the decision. Until Congress adds an amendment to the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages, then it's each individual state's (NOT the national government's) right to make laws allowing or disallowing same-sex marriages. The 10th amendment actually was an issue in Louisiana . For a long time in Louisiana and Colorado you only had to be 18 in order to buy and drink alcohol. The US government told those two states to raise the age to 21 -- or else. Colorado quickly agreed. Louisiana didn't care that much about the drinking age, but they told Congress, "Hey, you're not allowed to tell us what drinking age limit we can have because the 10th amendment says that if the Constitution doesn't say Congress is in charge of something, then it's the state that decides. Nowhere does the Constitution say Congress in charge of drinking age limits." Louisiana stuck it out for a long time. For those of you who have driven through Louisiana , you know the roads are pretty bad. They have lots of pot holes and old pavement. Do you want to know why? Because the Congress said to Louisiana , "If you don't raise your alcohol limit to age 21, we won't give you back money for your roads." Don't you know how your parents pay taxes every April 15? That money goes to the national government, who then passes back some of the money to all the states to take care of things like roads. Well, the parents in Louisiana were paying their taxes to the national government, but the national government was keeping all the money and not letting Louisiana have any to fix their roads. Louisiana did finally give in. The national government won a crooked game by not abiding by the 10th amendment.


Week 16: Day 2: Political Parties

Did America's new government work?

Objective: Did America's new government work?

Homework: Study for exam

1. UNIT EVALUATION a) What are 3 things you've learned during this unit on our Constitution? B) What are 2 areas about which you still feel confused? C) List the one area from this unit about which you would have like to study more.

2. Notes: "How Political Parties Developed." At the top write, "US Constitution Written (1781)." Draw two arrows coming out from below. One points to, "Federalists (supported the Constitution as written)." The other points to, "Antifederalists (opposed the Constitution without Bill of Rights)." Below "Federalists" draw an arrow to "Hamilton Federalists" to "National Republicans" to "Whigs" to "Republicans." Below "Antifederalists" draw an arrow to "Jeffersonian Republicans" to "Democratic Republicans" to Democratics."

3. Define: precedent, public debt, bond, interest, tariff, strict construction, loose construction from textbook

4. Notes: "America's First Government Under the Constitution." Draw a tree similar to the one drawn for "Our Constitution = Our Government." In the trunk write, "1789." In the first branch write, "House of Representatives" and "Senate". In the second branch write, "George Washington." Draw three smaller branches coming off this branch. In one branch write, "Secretary of State (Thomas Jefferson)." In the second write, "Secretary of War (Henry Knox)." In the third branch write, "Secretary of Treasury (Alexander Hamilton)."

5. New Political Parties:

o Under the tree, draw a t-chart with the Hamiltonian Federalists vs. the Jeffersonian Republicans.

o Under the Hamiltonian Federalists write, "Government controlled by rich and educated, focus on business, national bank, strong national government, loose construction (government can do anything the Constitution doesn't say it can't do), favor tariffs."

o Under the Jeffersonian Republicans write, "Government controlled by ordinary citizen, focus on farmers, state banks, weak national government, strict construction (government only has power Constitution gives it), against tariffs."

o Analogy 1: To explain "tariff," draw two identical shirts on the board, one priced $22 and the other $36. Ask which they would buy and why. Then draw two identical cars, one priced $19K and the other $38K. Explain are the exact same car. Which would you buy? Why? Show the more expensive one being from another country. Why would America do this? (to protect their own businesses) Are Americans still willing to pay more for things from other countries? (sometimes) Why? (sometimes better quality) Who would like tariffs? (American businesses/the North) Who wouldn't? (people who have to buy a lot of stuff from other countries/the South)

o Analogy 2: To explain strict and loose construction: Strict construction: Our school's student/teacher handbook says that I can instruct students and lead activities related to academics. I cannot act prejudice against any student, nor may I physically, mentally, or sexually assault any of them. Loose construction: The student/teacher handbook doesn't say anything about me telling the students who they can or cannot date, so "Maria and Juan, you're going to have to break up." It also doesn't say anything about me telling my students what they can do on the weekends, so "From now on, you're each going to spend 2 hours every weekend reading history books. Plus, I want you all to come to my house and pull weeds once a month."

6. Review worksheets from book

7. Watch "School House Rock" video on preamble of Constitution

Constitutional government

Constitutional government

Week 16: Day 3: Exam

What have I learned about our Constitution?

Objective: What have I learned about our Constitution?

Homework: Finish worksheet

1. Cram/study for exam

2. Watch "School House Rock" video on preamble of Constitution

3. Have students fill in the blanks to the Preamble to the Constitution.

4. Exam

5. Worksheet on next unit: Our New Nation

Previous Unit: Weeks 8-13: American Revolution

Next Unit: Week 17: American Literature

Weeks 1-2: First Week of School & Geography Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

Weeks 3-8: Thirteen Colonies Lesson Plans

Weeks 8-13: American Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 13-16: Constitution Lesson Plans (this set of lessons)

Week 17: American Literature Lesson Plans

Weeks 18-19: Our New Nation Lesson Plans

Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 23-26: Westward Expansion & Roads to Freedom Lesson Plans

Weeks 26-30: Civil War Lesson Plans

© 2010 Shannon

Comments? Questions? - Was this lens helpful? Do you have any questions, comments, or additional ideas? Please post here!

Shannon (author) from Florida on December 07, 2015:

Thank you so much!

Serakwas on October 12, 2015:

This is amazing! I am new to teaching Social Studies and have an allergic reaction to textbooks. I have been racking my brain trying to find ways to make history fun for my students! I am looking forward to picking your brain more. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing!

Shannon (author) from Florida on March 06, 2015:

Thank you so much!

Saire Schwartz on February 25, 2015:

Great article here. I think the number of pictures and the video you included. Very informative.

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 04, 2013:

@Gypzeerose: I'm so happy you've found my lessons to be helpful!

Rose Jones on July 04, 2013:

Thanks for making life so much nicer for those eighth grade teachers! Lord knows they need it. Pinned to my teaching and homeschooling board.

Shannon (author) from Florida on January 01, 2013:

@anonymous: Thank you!

anonymous on January 01, 2013:

Absolutely wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 31, 2012:

@JoshK47: Thank you!

JoshK47 on October 31, 2012:

Very informative! Thanks so much for sharing!

Shannon (author) from Florida on August 21, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you so much!

anonymous on August 21, 2012:

Very, very well done. Thank you.

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 03, 2012:

@TransplantedSoul: Thank you!

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 03, 2012:

@KokoTravel: Thank you!

KokoTravel on June 25, 2012:

Excellent! Thank you!

TransplantedSoul on May 03, 2012:

Putting a good lesson plan together is obviously a lot of work.

Brandi from Maryland on February 28, 2012:

Also adding this lens to my Celebrate America lens...thanks so much! :)

dessertlover on December 20, 2011:

Wow, great work here. I think this is a great lesson plan!!

blastfromthepas1 on December 02, 2011:

Thank you for these detailed lesson plans. Our first weapon in the fight against the current reductions in America's Constitutional rights and freedoms is to study and really understand the Constitution.

mrducksmrnot on August 07, 2011:

A wonderful lens and great teaching tool which I plan on implementing to the people and not just our younger generation. In today's society to many folks have forgotten these lessons and the reason for them. Thank You.

lasertek lm on June 01, 2011:

great lesson plan! great lens!

Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on February 20, 2011:

WOW! You have a wealth of information here! I need to check out your other pages.

moonlitta on February 14, 2011:

Your plans are so detailed and deeply explained! I'm sure you're making good use of them.

Shannon (author) from Florida on December 28, 2010:

@anonymous: Thank you for the comments! Are you teaching history to preschool or are you moving from teaching preschool to teaching history to older students? If the latter is the case, you can check out my my "Procedures and General Ideas for 8th Grade American History" lens. The link is in the first section of this page. If you're teaching preschool, you can cut and paste the below links for some great preschool lesson pages.

anonymous on December 27, 2010:

While this is not my first year teaching, this is my first year in history. I am a preschool teacher and was wondering how or where to begin. Your analogies are very helpful and give meaning to what we are teaching them. Good job

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