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.

Not sure which lessons to use? Start by reviewing our Influence Library Teacher's Guide. It provides an overview of people and topics covered in this library. 

Choose Grade Level:

  • Lesson Plan

    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    Machiavelli Mini-lesson

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

    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.