Influence Library

This library of mini-lessons targets the people, ideas, and events that influenced the development of America’s government. Each mini-lesson includes a one-page reading and a one-page activity, and is appropriate for a variety of uses. Unlike the iCivics lesson plans, these mini-lessons are designed for students to complete independently without the need for teacher direction. However, they also make great teacher-directed lessons or even class conversation-starters, and multiple mini-lessons can be combined to make a longer lesson. 


Influence Library Teacher's Guide

Use this document as a Step-by-Step for all of the mini-lessons found in the Influence Library.  It provides overall learning objectives, how to use the mini-lessons in your classroom, and a list of the mini-lessons available.


Influence Library Teacher's Guide

Use this document as a Step-by-Step for all of the mini-lessons found in the Influence Library.  It provides overall learning objectives, how to use the mini-lessons in your classroom, and a list of the mini-lessons available.


Cradle of Democracy Mini-lesson

No one person invented the kind of government that we have in the U.S. Check out two early governments that inspired the system that we have today: Athenian democracy, and the Roman Republic.


Cradle of Democracy Mini-lesson

No one person invented the kind of government that we have in the U.S. Check out two early governments that inspired the system that we have today: Athenian democracy, and the Roman Republic.


Machiavelli Mini-lesson

Look into the ideas and writings of the Italian thinker and politician, Niccoló Machiavelli (1429-1527).


Machiavelli Mini-lesson

Look into the ideas and writings of the Italian thinker and politician, Niccoló Machiavelli (1429-1527).


Thomas Hobbes Mini-lesson

Thomas Hobbes was one of the first of his era to discuss the idea of the social contract. Explore his views on government and his famous book, Leviathan.


Thomas Hobbes Mini-lesson

Thomas Hobbes was one of the first of his era to discuss the idea of the social contract. Explore his views on government and his famous book, Leviathan.


John Locke Mini-lesson

Introduce students to the ideas and writings of John Locke that influenced the likes of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers.


John Locke Mini-lesson

Introduce students to the ideas and writings of John Locke that influenced the likes of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers.


The Enlightenment Mini-lesson

The Enlightenment was a period of time, starting around 1715, when people developed new ideas about human existence, including people's basic rights and the purpose of government. When our Founding Fathers created a government for the new United States, they embraced many Enlightenment ideas.


The Enlightenment Mini-lesson

The Enlightenment was a period of time, starting around 1715, when people developed new ideas about human existence, including people's basic rights and the purpose of government. When our Founding Fathers created a government for the new United States, they embraced many Enlightenment ideas.


William Blackstone: Mini-Lesson

Discover how William Blackstone and his Commentaries on the Laws of England influenced America’s founders, founding documents, and legal system.


William Blackstone: Mini-Lesson

Discover how William Blackstone and his Commentaries on the Laws of England influenced America’s founders, founding documents, and legal system.


Montesquieu Mini-lesson

Meet the Baron de Montesquieu, one of the great thinkers of the 18th century. He spent a lot of time thinking about how governments should be created and maintained. These ideas guided the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution and continue to influence the way people think about government around the world.


Montesquieu Mini-lesson

Meet the Baron de Montesquieu, one of the great thinkers of the 18th century. He spent a lot of time thinking about how governments should be created and maintained. These ideas guided the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution and continue to influence the way people think about government around the world.


Rousseau Mini-lesson

Explore the ideas of Enlightenment thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His writings on natural and social freedom, the social contract, and democracy shaped the American system of government in a variety of ways.


Rousseau Mini-lesson

Explore the ideas of Enlightenment thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His writings on natural and social freedom, the social contract, and democracy shaped the American system of government in a variety of ways.


Founding Mothers Mini-lesson

We've heard a lot about the role the Founding Fathers played in the early United States, but what role did our Founding Mothers play? Discover the contributions of women in the Revolutionary War and the founding of the U.S.


Founding Mothers Mini-lesson

We've heard a lot about the role the Founding Fathers played in the early United States, but what role did our Founding Mothers play? Discover the contributions of women in the Revolutionary War and the founding of the U.S.


Benjamin Franklin Mini-lesson

"The First American", Benjamin Franklin, is the only Founding Father that signed all three major documents that founded the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and the United States Constitution. Students explore the many roles he took during the founding of America.


Benjamin Franklin Mini-lesson

"The First American", Benjamin Franklin, is the only Founding Father that signed all three major documents that founded the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and the United States Constitution. Students explore the many roles he took during the founding of America.


George Mason Mini-lesson

Check out George Mason's role in the founding of the U.S. Even though he never served as a president and refused to sign the Constitution, Mason's work in Virginia and with the Anti-Federalists earn him a place with the Founding Fathers.


George Mason Mini-lesson

Check out George Mason's role in the founding of the U.S. Even though he never served as a president and refused to sign the Constitution, Mason's work in Virginia and with the Anti-Federalists earn him a place with the Founding Fathers.


George Washington Mini-lesson

Review the variety of roles that George Washington played in America's early years. From commanding the Continental Army, to presiding over the Constitutional Convention, to setting the standard for the American presidency, Washington led the way.


George Washington Mini-lesson

Review the variety of roles that George Washington played in America's early years. From commanding the Continental Army, to presiding over the Constitutional Convention, to setting the standard for the American presidency, Washington led the way.


Thomas Jefferson Mini-lesson

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, but he played many political roles throughout our nation’s history. His political life influenced the country in many ways, from the founding documents to the shape of our nation on the map.


Thomas Jefferson Mini-lesson

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, but he played many political roles throughout our nation’s history. His political life influenced the country in many ways, from the founding documents to the shape of our nation on the map.


James Madison Mini-lesson

This mini-lesson digs into the 41 year political career of James Madison. Considered the author of the U.S. Constitution, Madison was a prime architect in creating a strong national government, yet fought for the addition of a federal bill of rights. This balance resulted in the blueprint for government that we use to this day.


James Madison Mini-lesson

This mini-lesson digs into the 41 year political career of James Madison. Considered the author of the U.S. Constitution, Madison was a prime architect in creating a strong national government, yet fought for the addition of a federal bill of rights. This balance resulted in the blueprint for government that we use to this day.


Federalists & Anti-Federalists

Look at the debate, and eventual compromise, between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists that occured around the creation of the U.S. Constitution.


Federalists & Anti-Federalists

Look at the debate, and eventual compromise, between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists that occured around the creation of the U.S. Constitution.


The Constitutional Convention Mini-lesson

After ten years under the Articles of Confederation, Americans realized they needed something different. Explore the major debates that occurred at the convention, as well as the outcomes that created our system of government.


The Constitutional Convention Mini-lesson

After ten years under the Articles of Confederation, Americans realized they needed something different. Explore the major debates that occurred at the convention, as well as the outcomes that created our system of government.


Early Rebellions Mini-lesson

As a new country, the United States experienced a lot of growing pains. Discover some of the citizen-led rebellions that occured in the nation's first decades, and how the government grew to respond. It always boiled down to one thing... money.


Early Rebellions Mini-lesson

As a new country, the United States experienced a lot of growing pains. Discover some of the citizen-led rebellions that occured in the nation's first decades, and how the government grew to respond. It always boiled down to one thing... money.