American colonists had some strong ideas about what they wanted in a government. These ideas surface in colonial documents, and eventually became a part of the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But where did they come from? This lesson looks at the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, English Bill of Rights, Cato’s Letters and Common Sense.
Students will be able to trace the impact of the following documents on the colonists’ views of government:
There is an optional PowerPoint that can be used as a companion to the lesson reading and activities.
ANTICIPATE by distributing the brainstorming sheet to the students and giving 5 minutes to brainstorm the meaning of the ‘big idea’ terms in the first column of the table.
ASK students to share their personal definitions and discuss. Display the transparency and have students copy the class definition onto their sheets. Remind them that these ideas will come up again and again during this lesson.
DISTRIBUTE the cut-and-fold activity and show the transparency with instructions. Walk through each step and monitor the students to make sure they are cutting and folding in the right areas. Explain that this will be what they take notes on as they read through the lesson.
DISTRIBUTE the reading pages to the students. Ask if anyone is familiar with the documents listed in the ‘Collection of Good Ideas’ on the bookshelf image.
READ the first paragraph one as a class. Have students offer other types of information sources available at this time. (newspapers, flyers, word-of-mouth, letters)
READ through the remainder of page one and two, noting the context of the document (who wrote it and why) and the take-away ideas that each document provides. Call on the class to share when they think a big idea is being introduced.
ALLOW for time to fill in the foldable between each paragraph. (If you need to provide greater scaffolding with this activity, have the students collaborate in partners or small groups, or complete each set as a class.)
REVIEW the items on the cut-and-fold activity through a student pair and share or in small groups. Then discuss as a class.
DISTRIBUTE the activity pages and have students complete. The second page asks the students to create a three frame cartoon describing the facts about one document. They need to draw something in the box and describe the actions in each frame.