Age 12-14: Concept 1 - Semester 1: Unit 2

Have you ever wondered how the American system of government functions? In this unit, you will discover how the United States's democratic system of government was established and learn about the role citizens play within that system. You will begin the unit by learning about the documents that influenced the U.S. Constitution and will read about the drafting of the document at the Constitutional Convention. The unit also covers the separate sections within the Constitution and explains how the three branches of government -- the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial -- are structured and work together. Towards the end of this unit, you will discover how state and local governments operate, and you will learn about the duties citizens are expected to fulfill.

The final project gives you the opportunity to use your artistic and creative sides to share what you have learned in the form of a lapbook.

Other Items You May Need

The Age 12-14 social studies units utilize a Timeline of American History along with a stack of timeline cards to enhance your child's understanding of the chronology of historical events.
$15.00 #1809 Age 12-14 - American History Timeline Cards
$7.00 #1810 Age 12-14 - American History Timeline


  • Able to read and comprehend novels at an 8th or 9th grade reading level
  • Able to write multiple paragraphs on a topic
  • Can write a five-paragraph essay
  • Usually used by children in the eighth grade

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: The Origins of American Government
  • Lesson 2: The Constitutional Convention (2 Days)
  • Lesson 3: The Constitution of the United States
  • Lesson 4: The Executive Branch
  • Lesson 5: The Legislative Branch
  • Lesson 6: The Judicial Branch
  • Lesson 7: State Government (2 Days)
  • Lesson 8: Local Government
  • Lesson 9: Citizenship (3 Days)
  • Final Project: Government Lapbook (2 Days)

Summary of Skills

Moving Beyond the Page is based on state and national standards. These standards are covered in this unit.
  • Analyze how the U.S. Constitution reflects the principles of limited government, republicanism, checks and balances, federalism, separation of powers, popular sovereignty, and individual rights. Describe the principles of federalism, dual sovereignty, separation of powers, checks and balances, the nature and purpose of majority rule, and the ways in which the American idea of constitutionalism preserves individual rights. (Social Studies)
  • Analyze issues pursued through active citizen campaigns for change (e.g., voting rights and access to education, housing and employment). (Social Studies)
  • Analyze the arguments of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, including those of Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and George Mason. (Social Studies)
  • Analyze the issues of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, including the Great Compromise and the Three-Fifths Compromise, and analyze the arguments for and against ratification. (Social Studies)
  • Analyze the leadership qualities of elected and appointed leaders of the United States such as George Washington, John Marshall, and Abraham Lincoln. (Social Studies)
  • Define and give examples of unalienable rights; summarize rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights; explain the importance of personal responsibilities, including accepting responsibility for one's behavior and supporting one's family. (Social Studies)
  • Describe contemporary political, economic, and social issues at the state and local levels and evaluate their impact on the community. (Social Studies)
  • Describe opportunities for and benefits of civic participation. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the basic law-making process and how the Constitution provides numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government (e.g., function of elections, political parties, interest groups). (Social Studies)
  • Describe the impact of other significant Constitutional amendments such as the 18th and 21st amendments (Prohibition) and the 19th amendment affirming women's right to vote. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the nation's blend of civic republicanism, classical liberal principles, and English parliamentary traditions. (Social Studies)
  • Describe the political philosophy underpinning the Constitution as specified in the Federalist Papers (authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay) and the role of such leaders as Madison, George Washington, Roger Sherman, Gouverneur Morris, and James Wilson in the writing and ratification of the Constitution. (Social Studies)
  • Enumerate the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights. (Social Studies)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches used to effect change in specific states and the United States (e.g., picketing, boycotts, sit-ins, voting, marches, holding elected office and lobbying). (Social Studies)
  • Evaluate the impact of selected landmark Supreme Court decisions, including Dred Scott v. Sandford, on life in the United States. (Social Studies)
  • Evaluate the major debates that occurred during the development of the Constitution and their ultimate resolutions in such areas as shared power among institutions, divided state-federal power, slavery, the rights of individuals and states (later addressed by the addition of the Bill of Rights), and the status of American Indian nations under the commerce clause. (Social Studies)
  • Explain the impact of human and civil rights issues throughout specific states and United States history. (Social Studies)
  • Explore examples of and opportunities for active citizenship, past and present, at the local and state levels. (Social Studies)
  • Identify colonial grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence and evaluate how successfully those grievances were addressed in the the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. (Social Studies)
  • Identify different points of view of political parties and interest groups on important historical and contemporary issues. (Social Studies)
  • Identify examples of responsible citizenship, including obeying rules and laws, staying informed on public issues, voting, and serving on juries. (Social Studies)
  • Identify examples of responsible citizenship, including obeying rules and laws, staying informed on public issues, voting, and serving on juries; summarize the criteria and explain the process for becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. (Social Studies)
  • Identify the influence of ideas from historic documents, including the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, the Federalist Papers, and selected Anti-Federalist writings, on the U.S. system of government. (Social Studies)
  • Identify the origin of judicial review and analyze examples of congressional and presidential responses. (Social Studies)
  • Summarize the issues surrounding the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. (Social Studies)
  • Summarize the issues, decisions, and significance of landmark Supreme Court cases, including Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, and Gibbons v. Ogden. (Social Studies)
  • Summarize the purposes for and process of amending the U.S. Constitution, and describe the impact of 19th-century amendments, including the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, on life in the United States. (Social Studies)
  • Summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the dynamic nature of the powers of the national government and state governments in a federal system. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the functions and responsibilities of a free press. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the impact of landmark Supreme Court cases. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the importance of effective leadership in a constitutional republic. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the importance of the expression of different points of view in a constitutional republic. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the importance of voluntary individual participation in the democratic process. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the philosophical ideas represented in the nation's founding documents. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the process by which the U.S. Constitution can be and has, historically, been changed, and the impact of Constitutional changes on American society. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States. (Social Studies)
  • Understand the significance of Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom as a forerunner of the First Amendment and the origins, purpose, and differing views of the founding fathers on the issue of the separation of church and state. (Social Studies)
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