Civics and US Goverment Resources and Activities

by Lynne Schalman and Steve Bergen
(you can e-mail us both at )
Last revised 12/23/07










Bill of Rights and Beyond



Political Parties



Legislative Branch



Executive Branch



Judicial Branch








Immigration Resources

The American Immigration Home Page was started as a part of a school project for a 10th grade American History Class. The project was meant to give information as to how immigrants not only were treated, but also why they decided to come to America. Information includes a wide variety of statistics on numbers, dates, reasons for emigrating, destinations and impact on US and immigration laws.


Immigration Activities

American Memory: Port Of Entry

A Library of Congress Activity, this interactive website has students analyze the immigrant experience by studying photographs from the Library's collection.

History Resources

The National Archives presents scanned copies and analysis of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Magna Carta. This site also contains biographies of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment

This site designed by PBS to correspond with the Ken Burns video on document contains a series of resources and activities designed to encourage students to discuss Jefferson's thoughts and actions regarding five basic freedoms.

History Activities

This lesson introduces students to some of the basic ideas which were of great importance to the Founders. They used these ideas when they developed our government. Students will learn why they thought we needed a government in the first place. Students will also learn how they believed governments should be created and what they ought to do. Particular attention is paid to the ideas of John Locke.

Constitution Resources

This National Archives sites provides links to A More Perfect Union, an in-depth look at the Constitutional Convention, biographies of all the signees, and Questions and Answers pertaining to the Constitution.

The Constitution Notebook Project :

This site provides an annotated version of the Constitution with links to other sites that provide discussion, court cases, essays, etc. about the issues raised by the Constitution.

Constitution Activities

Debate on Ratifying the Constitution

After spending a hot summer in Philadelphia arguing, compromising, writing, and finally finishing the new Constitution, only 40 of the original 55 delegates (or deputies) actually signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787. When it went to the states for their ratification votes (remember it would take a vote 3/4s of the states to ratify), the debates were intense. The Federalists led by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay argued in favor of ratification, while Antifederalists, George Mason, Patrick Henry, Luther Martin and RichardHenry Lee argued against ratification. What was the big deal? Let's find out!

You will "become" one of these famous men, research their arguments, and stage a debate in front of your state's legislature (the class). The class will then vote whether or not to ratify the new Constitution, based upon the success of your debate.


In Congress Assembled: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States

This is a teaching unit on the Constitution, Congress, and current events using documents from THOMAS and the Documents of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, an American Memory collection at the National Digital Library of the Library of Congress. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues.

Bill of Rights Resources

Web Guide to the Constitution

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to view each of the amendments and the variety of issues, court cases, and controversies surrounding each one.

Political Parties Resources

The Living Room Candidate

This website contains links to presidential campaign commercials fro 1952 to the current election.

Rock The Vote

Designed for students, this website contains links to all elected officials, information about voting, and Project VoteSmart with links to a wealth of information and lesson plans.

Federal Election Commission

This site contains financial information about candidates, parties and PACs, information about elections and voting, and news releases.

Political Parties Activities

In Praise of Political Parties

Election Day is coming up and you and your classmates have a chance to register to vote for the very first time. Everyone must decide which political party to join or to register as an independent. You are part of a group who will be analyzing one current political party and making a presentation to the class about this party's solutions for the problems that confront the U.S. today

Legislative Branch Resources

This site calls itself "one stop center for legislative information." It includes email addresses of all branches of the government, scorecards on voting, current bills, and spotlights on different representatives.

Legislative Branch Activities

We The People is a WebQuest designed to give students the opportunity to discover how Our Federal Government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people with the three branches having separate but equal power. Knowing how a bill becomes a law and what role each branch of the government has with the laws will be learned in the American Government WebQuest. The Process section has three different webquests. The links include the Websites of the United States Congress, the White House, and the United States Supreme Court. There are three additional links available from Washington, DC, based public policy research groups. The Heritage Foundation is conservative, the Brookings Institute tends to be liberal, and the Cato Institue is libertarian.

Congress Link

Presented by the Dirksen Congressional Center, this site provides lesson plans and activities for students to analyze the workings of Congress.

Executive Branch Resources

The American Presidency: A Guided Tour

This tour includes links to a wealth of information including The White House, Presidential penmanship, the President's Addresses to the Nation, Presidential Trivia, Presidential Rankings, The Democratic National Committee, The Republican National Committee, Voting Issues, and Election Statistics.

POTUS: Presidents of the United States

This site supplies links to background information, election results, cabinet members, notable events, and some points of interest on each of the presidents. Links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites are also included to enrich this site.

Executive Branch Activities

Advising the President: A Simulated Cabinet Meeting

The Task: Washington, D.C. is and extremely competitive, political town and you must work hard to keep your agency an important part of government. It's the beginning of the legislative calendar and you must compete with other agencies and departments for a part of the budget and a high profile emphasis from the president. It's up to you, as agency chief, to identify a pressing current issue before your department/post and prepare an option paper or presentation for the president. Explore possible courses of action to remedy this problem and the potential cost to accomplish the goals set forth in each course of action you are proposing to solve this pressing social problem. You may prepare charts, tables and graphs to explain your plans to the President.

Judicial Branch Resources

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez: US Supreme Court Multimedia Database

This Northwestern University robwebsite includes a database of court cases, biographies of the Justices, and a virtual tour of the Supreme Court Building.

Judicial Branch Activities

Defining Freedom in the Supreme Court

This PBS site is based on the Ken Burns video on Thomas Jefferson. It states, "Since the founding documents of the United States were penned, there have been conflicts over how these documents should be interpreted in everyday life. Three Supreme Court cases are presented here to illustrate how judicial review serves to clarify issues in such disputes:

Engel v. Vitale - Prayer in the Public Schools
United States v. Eichman - Burning the American Flag
Brown v. Board of Education - Racial Segregation in Public Schools."

Economics Resources

Economic Resources for Educators

This index page contains links to The Federal Reserve Board, Consumer Information Center, Department of Commerce, Economic resources for k12 classes, and many other links to financial, business and economic sites.


More than 70 agencies in the United States Federal Government produce statistics of interest to the public. The Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy maintains this site to provide easy access to the full range of statistics and information produced by these agencies.

Economics Activities

How has the Constitution Shaped the American Economy

Constitutions are economic documents as well as political documents. This is certainly true of the Constitution of the United States. Our nation's founders believed that economic freedom as well as political freedom are essential for national prosperity and growth. Accordingly, they included numerous provisions in the Constitution that sup-port and encourage the operation of a market economy. Thus, as the basic "law of the land," the U.S Constitution defines the essential features of our economy. This website has several lesson plans for understanding the relationship between the Constitution and the economy.

Look Who is Footing the Bill

A webquest designed to introduce the concepts of Democracy and The National Debt, this site has lesson plans for students to follow and links to The Balance the Budget Game, The US National Debt Clock, links to Congress' web pages, and a National Budget Simulation.