history book

The Declaration of Independence

Lesson Plan


Each of the projects is designed to allow you to demonstrate your skills and abilities with respect to what you have learned in this lesson. We offer you many choices so that you can find the one(s) that you find most interesting or relevant. In many of these projects we offer you help in how to approach them.

Jefferson was heavily influenced by some great political philosophers before him (e.g. Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Montesquieu)

  • Create a Comparison Chart to show what issues Jefferson agreed with three of these thinkers and what areas he would have had disagreement and be prepared to do a ten minute presentation on this map.
  • Write a short play about Jefferson's dinner conversation with any two of his historical influencers.
  • Write an essay or build a presentation that shows which of Jefferson's ideas in the Declaration of Independence came from these great thinkers. Consider using Google Docs or Slideshare.
  • Create a discussion between Jefferson and one of the historical figures. You might consider using Wetoku to enact the conversation.

The colonial period between 1753-1776 was pivotal in how the country was formed.

  • Create the front page of a newspaper or a web homepage (simulated or live) that consolidates this period. Write 4-6 articles on the page and find the appropriate images and headlines for your front page.

The Declaration of Independence is an 18th century document. How would the ideas be communicated today? You can choose to...

  • Rewrite the Declaration of Independence as a 21st century document in your own language
  • Build a Facebook page for the D of I, include any relevant pictures of the proceedings and different documents or videos that you can find that you think are appropriate
  • Perform a song or poem that describes the key ideas in the Declaration

The Declaration of Independence included these three major ideas:

  1. People have certain Inalienable Rights including Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness
  2. All Men are created equal
  3. Individuals have a civic duty to defend these rights for themselves and others

How important do you think these principals are today? Are we still living by them? Pick one and

  • Write a paper to examine and defend your position.
  • Give a speech explaining whether we are living up to the ideals.
  • Write a fictional story based in the present day that deals with one or more of these ideas. Create a conflict and determine how your lead character(s) will deal with them.
  • Create a forum/survey (online or offline) to collect opinions around how well America is living up to any or all of these principals. Make a presentation on your findings.
  • Conduct an interview with Thomas Jefferson and have him explain why he felt one of the above ideas was so important.... Come up with 2 other follow-up questions you would ask him about this issue and have him answer those as well.

The three ideas are strongly entangled. What would it mean if one of the three were removed? Write two similar short stories. One that describes a scenario when all three ideas are in play, the other when only two are.

  • Is there another idea that you think should be inserted as an inalienable right. Write a story that demonstrates the right and its critical importance.

Those in the Second Continental Congress did not just walk in and sign the Declaration of Independence. It took about a year from the time they first met to the time they signed it. Research what went on during the period that led up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and

  • Take on the role of a late night comedian. Write a monologue that pokes fun at what went on.
  • Develop a series of "supposed" Television news interviews to show how things developed.


Content usage permissions

©1995- by the Independence Hall Association, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, PA founded in 1942.
Publishing electronically as ushistory.org.; online since July 4, 1995.

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