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. 

Choose Grade Level:

  • Lesson Plan

    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

    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

    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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 occurred in the nation's first decades, and how the government grew to respond. It always boiled down to one thing... money.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.
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    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.
  • Lesson Plan

    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.