Free Lessons: High School | Middle School | Elementary School | Additional Lessons: From our Catalog
The Bill of (Twelve) Rights: Contingency and the Constitution. That possibility of things going a different way is called contingency. In this lesson, students learn about the contingencies involved in our major founding documents, especially the Bill of Rights! This article and activity are a product of Teach Democracy's partnership with the New York Public Library's Center for Educators & Schools.
A Jury of Your Peers. In this lesson, students learn about the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of the right to a trial by an impartial jury chosen from a cross-section of the community. Students explore how this right has not always been protected when potential jurors were excluded because of their race, ethnicity, and gender.
'Falsely Shouting Fire': the Free Press and the Courts. In this lesson, students learn about how the U.S, Supreme Court has interpreted freedom of the press throughout in the 20th century and into the 21st century.
Prayer at Government Meetings and the First Amendment. Why are prayers at meetings of government bodies constitutional? Students learn why in this lesson on the Supreme Court's landmark 2014 decision of Town of Greece v. Galloway from Teach Democracy's BRIA curricular magazine.
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, this Virginia law served as the model for the religious clauses in the First Amendment. It established a clear separation of church and state and was one of Jefferson’s proudest accomplishments.
John Peter Zenger and the Freedom of the Press. Should someone be prosecuted for criticizing or insulting a government official even if the offending words are the truth? Should a judge or a jury decide the case? These were the key questions argued in the colonial New York trial of John Peter Zenger. The outcome deeply influenced freedom of the press in America.
Wartime and the Bill of Rights: The Korematsu Case. During World War II, the U.S. government ordered 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry into prison camps. Fred Korematsu, an American citizen of Japanese descent, refused to go, and his case went before the Supreme Court.
Free Press vs. Fair Trial: The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Case. Charles Lindbergh was a genuine American hero. He was the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. When his infant son was kidnapped, the trial of the alleged kidnapper developed into a sensational news story. The reaction of the public to this highly publicized crime, and the effects that modern publicity had on the jury, seriously challenged the limits of freedom of the press. The controversies raised by the media coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial still resonate today.
See our full archive of Bill of Rights in Action lessons.
Middle School Lessons
James Madison and the Bill of Rights. The First Congress considered four versions of the First Amendment before finally adopting the fifth version, which now appears in our Bill of Rights. Students learn about this as well as the history behind the Bill of Rights and its ratification in this lesson from Teach Democracy's BRIA curricular magazine.
Suppressing the Press? Censorship and the Alien and Sedition Acts. In this lesson, students will explore the First Amendment's freedom of the press as they examine sources related to government censorship of the press. They design and create their own poster promoting freedom of the press today.
Arrest and Search. Students learn about the Fourth Amendment’s requirements for arrests and searches. Then in a paired writing activity, they take the role of television writers and create scenarios illustrating legal arrests and searches.
The Trial of John Peter Zenger. This trial in colonial times helped define freedom of press in America.
Elementary School Lessons
Extra! Extra! Journalists and a Free Press. In this lesson, students are introduced to the notion of “freedom of the press” from the First Amendment and learn about the crucial role journalists and reporters play in keeping the citizens in a democratic society informed about their community, the nation, and the world.
Find Your Freedom. In this lesson, students learn about the Bill of Rights and analyze primary sources from the Library of Congress to identify freedoms and rights. They will explore the questions: What are our rights? What freedoms are most important to you?
Mr. Madison Needs Some Help. Students prepare to help James Madison decide what rights and freedoms should be included in the Bill of Rights. Through reading and discussion, students meet Madison as he is struggling to write the Bill of Rights. Then students work in small groups to create their own lists of rights to be included in the Bill of Rights. Students conclude by comparing their lists with the Bill of Rights.
What Is Your Best Freedom? Students make a poster illustrating their “best freedom.” In preparation, students discuss the freedoms they have as Americans and at school.
From CRF's Catalog
DOWNLOAD NOW!!! For only $9.95 each, purchase and download now these PowerPoint presentations (Windows). Using animated graphics, each present content on the U.S. Constitution and guide students through an exciting interactive classroom activity. The accompanying teacher's guide includes taking points to accompany the content presentation, step-by-step teaching prodcedures for the activity, and student handout masters.
The Constitution & the Bill of Rights: An Introduction
The Constitution & Bill of Rights: Equal Protection
The Constitution & Bill of Rights: Due Process
The Constitution & Bill of Rights: Free Expression
The Constitution & Bill of Rights Due Process, Vol. 2
!!!VALUE PACK. Download all 5 Lessons for only $39.95.