- How does the Bill of Rights protect individual liberties and limit the power of government?
- How is this seen in our everyday lives?
- Students will explain how the first 10 amendments to the Constitution protect individual liberties and limit the power of the government.
- Students will evaluate the impact of the Bill of Rights on Americans’ everyday lives.
Facilitation Notes: Stronger readers can read the background essay and complete the graphic organizer as background/preparatory work. Students will consult Appendix A: Founding Principles and Civic Virtues Organizer and Appendix B: Being an American Unit Graphic Organizer from the first lesson in this curriculum.
Have students play the Life Without the Bill of Rights game.
Ask for student responses to the Life Without the Bill of Rights game. What surprised them? What did they learn? Which rights seemed especially important after playing the game?
- Distribute Background Essay and Background Essay Questions. Complete as a class/individually/in pairs as best suits your classroom. Discuss and/or collect answers.
- Distribute Breaking Down the Bill of Rights Graphic Organizer. Have students complete in pairs or small groups, individually, or as a jigsaw, as best fits your classroom. Discuss student responses to the final questions. These questions are opinion-based and meant to generate discussion.
Assess & Reflect
- Have students return to Appendix A: Founding Principles and Civic Virtues Organizer from the first lesson in this curriculum and complete the definitions of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, press, and assembly based on what they learned in this activity.
- Have students return to Appendix B: Being an American Unit Graphic Organizer from the first lesson in this curriculum and complete the applicable row as an exit ticket.
- Have students create an approximately two-minute “Amendment Story” video for a chosen amendment in the Bill of Rights. Students can use whatever software is easily available. Each story should include visuals and narration on what the amendment says and why it is important. If software is not available, students can draw a cartoon or storyboard for their amendment story.
The Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights
Preserving the Bill of Rights
Preserving the Bill of Rights teaches students Constitutional principles by examining primary source documents and significant Supreme Court cases. In addition, each unit features expanded classroom activities engaging students with the Bill of Rights and the responsibilities of citizenship. Students will understand the connection between current events and the Bill of Rights when they participate in activities such as writing letters to their elected representatives; serving in a mock jury; creating public service announcements; and writing model laws.
Bill of Rights (1791)
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. James Madison wrote the amendments, which list specific prohibitions on governmental power, in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties.
What Are the Origins of the Bill of Rights?
In this lesson, students will explore the events and philosophies from British and colonial history that shaped the Founders' ideas about natural rights as well as the rights of Englishmen. They will also see how these rights affect all of our daily lives in a free society.
The Bill of Rights – Docs of Freedom
The Anti-Federalists had many objections to the Constitution, and one of them was that it did not have a bill of rights. Madison was worried that listing some rights would leave those rights that weren’t listed more vulnerable to infringement. But Jefferson put aside Madison’s concerns about the risks of a partial listing of rights, arguing, “Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can.” Amid the drama of the ratification debate, Madison promised to introduce amendments in Congress. The Bill of Rights, a list that would serve to clarify and emphasize the limited nature of the national government, was ratified and added to the Constitution in 1791.
Why A Bill of Rights? What Impact Does It Have?
The debate over the Bill of Rights at the Founding was not an argument over whether rights exist, but about how best to protect those rights. The Founders disagreed about whether a bill of rights was necessary, and whether it would be effective. Later generations continue to face the challenge of finding the best way to safeguard individual rights. This lesson explores these debates and discussions.