The US Constitution Lesson Plans for 5th Grade (2023-24)

5th grade history curriculum & lesson plans u.s. constitution
US Constitution Lesson Plan for 5th Grade

Teaching the U.S. Constitution to fifth graders can be challenging!  


BUT, what's often more challenging is creating lesson plans about the Constitution to teach your fifth graders (or at the very least finding affordable, high-quality, and engaging resources on the Constitution... typically after hours of searching online). From the Articles of Confederation to the Constitutional Convention and the Bill of Rights, along with everything else our busy Founding Fathers were doing in between, like devising a system of checks and balances and our three branches of government, there's SO MUCH to cover when it comes to the U.S. Constitution!



I can't tell you how often I've heard from social studies teachers how difficult it is to teach and challenge students when it comes to the United States Constitution, U.S. government, Articles of Confederation, and the Bill of Rights. To put it simply, American history is incredibly diverse, complex, and ever-evolving. When you combine this with the fact that you're trying to teach this content filled with numerous important historical figures, the rule of law (federal law), limited government, and concepts such as freedom of speech (free speech) as stated in the First Amendment to students, younger students no less (elementary school students) in a 5th grade classroom 👦👧, you've MORE than got your work cut out for you.


That's why I've spent more hours than I care to admit creating what I believe is the perfect three-week unit to teach your fifth graders all about the U.S. Constitution. Through the use of primary sources and secondary sources 📚, and engaging, immersive presentations in PowerPoint and Google Slides, this unit and its resources is guaranteed to give your whole class the big ideas behind the creation of our Constitution. From how the Constitution impacts our daily lives, to our individual rights and promoting civic responsibility, to creating a more perfect union, the lesson plans and educational resources I've created deliver it all in a meaningful way that your 5th graders (and YOU) will enjoy! 👍 


Here's a Lesson-by-Lesson breakdown of this social studies unit ALL about the US Constitution:

The unit starts off with the first lesson by delving into the Articles of Confederation—what it was, why it was created, and perhaps most importantly, the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. This lesson also discusses how an economic depression shortly after the Revolutionary War had ended further exasperated the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and contributed to the outbreak of Shays' Rebellion.


The second lesson follows that up by exploring one of our most historically significant Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Born into a life of difficult and tragic circumstances, through his tireless efforts and steadfast dedication, Hamilton overcomes numerous obstacles and makes his way to New York, where he eventually joins the Continental Army and becomes a senior aide to General George Washington. The second lesson of this unit is designed to not only inform and educate students about the many important contributions of Hamilton but also to inspire, connect, and relate to students who may be facing adversity in their own personal lives (much like Hamilton did early on in his own life).


The third and fourth lessons are all about the Constitutional Convention. From those who were there to the goals of the Convention it's all covered in these two lessons! On top of that, students will learn about the Virginia Plan—what it was, why there was debate over it, and how it led to the Connecticut Compromise (aka the Great Compromise). Your students will also be introduced to how the first divisions between the North and the South over the issue of slavery arose during the Constitutional Convention and played a role in the creation of the Three-Fifths Compromise.


In the fifth lesson of the unit, an in-depth overview of the Preamble of the Constitution is provided. Your students will learn what the purpose of a preamble is and its relevance. Specifically, the historical significance of the phrase "We the People" (which prefaces the Preamble of the Constitution) is emphasized to students in this lesson. This is in addition to an easy-to-understand breakdown for students of the text of the Preamble.


By the sixth lesson, your students will practically be constitutional law experts. 👨  Well, maybe not quite, -BUT- by this point they'll now have a solid foundation to learn and build upon. Especially when it comes to constitutional principles such as the three branches of government, separation of powers, and our system of checks and balances, and the sixth lesson digs into these vitally important topics. The first three Articles of the U.S. Constitution (Legislative, Executive, & Judicial Branches) are all explored providing students an explanation of what they each are and the responsibilities and powers granted to each of the three branches of government. This lesson also provides several real-world examples of our system of checks and balances, for example, how the Legislative Branch may impeach the president, how the Executive Branch conducts foreign policy, and how the Judicial Branch interprets the laws that the Legislative Branch passes, plus many more! 


In the seventh lesson, your students will learn about the ratification process of the U.S. Constitution and why some states hesitated in ratifying it 🕵! For example, why two of our Founding Fathers, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, both of Massachusetts, delayed Massachusetts ratification of the Constitution. In addition, they'll learn what President Washington was getting ready to do if the last of the 13 original states that had yet to ratify it, Rhode Island, continued to delay their ratification of it.


The eighth and ninth lessons cover the Bill of Rights (the first Ten Amendments of the Constitution) and translate it into simple terms for students to understand what rights, liberties 🗽, and protections each of the first Ten Amendments affords us as U.S. citizens. These two lessons also provide students with ample historical context on WHY our Founding Fathers felt it was important enough to include each of these amendments in the Constitution. For example, as colonists of the British Empire, British soldiers were allowed (by law) to stay, or quarter, in the homes of colonists—a major inconvenience and invasion of privacy!


The tenth lesson of this unit provides a comprehensive overview of several of the most prominent individuals associated with the creation of the Constitution. This includes George Mason, Charles Pinckney, Roger Sherman, and the "Father of the Constitution" himself, James Madison 👴. They'll learn what made these individuals so crucial to the creation of the U.S. Constitution as we know it today, as well as interesting facts about each of these individuals.


And finally, the eleventh lesson describes how an amendment can be added, removed, or changed in the U.S. Constitution (aka, "the amendment process") -AND- provides students with a glimpse of some of the more prominent amendments that have been added to the Constitution since it was first written by our Founding Fathers. This includes the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery; the 18th Amendment (prohibition); The 19th Amendment (women's suffrage), and several others!


FOUR unit review resources come with this unit, including a FUN, INTERACTIVE, and USER-FRIENDLY Jeopardy game 😃 which features automated scoring, daily doubles, two rounds of categories and a Final Jeopardy round!


A 39-question unit assessment is also included (complete with teacher answer key and grading rubric!) which features multiple choice, true/false, matching, and written response questions (plus an extra credit question)!


I firmly believe a quality civic education should be provided to all students, while at the SAME TIME empowering educators to actually educate (not spend hours on end creating or searching for lesson plans and other educational resources online) is absolutely paramount for students and teachers in any grade level. And as a now-former teacher and school administrator, I can unequivocally say to you that I don't think you'll find higher-quality or more engaging, comprehensive, and user-friendly, AND affordable resources (with responsive and dedicated customer service direct from the creator themselves—me!) than those I offer right here. I'd be sincerely humbled and appreciative to have the opportunity to earn your business and save you from oodles of time lesson planning 🥳 


Check out my 5th grade Social Studies curriculum by clicking below!

(You'll be glad you did!) 😉


5th Grade Social Studies YEAR-LONG Curriculum





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