Unit and lesson plans prepared by teachers using CongressLink resources and features. This section also includes simulations. The plans are organized by subject:
For links to other Web sites containing lesson plans for Congress see Lesson Plans on the Web.
The Comic Book Campaign: The Illinois U.S. Senate Race, 1950
In the 1950 Senate campaign in Illinois, the incumbent senator, Scott Lucas, a Democrat and the Majority Leader of the Senate, used a comic book to persuade voters of his qualifications. This lesson asks students to (1) identify the messages the comic book intended to convey; (2) describe the qualities of the candidate the book emphasized; (3) evaluate the effectiveness of the comic book approach in depicting those qualities; and (4) prepare a comic book storyboard for one of today's candidates.
In this lesson, students will encounter some of the problems legislators face in accomplishing the goal of reapportionment. As a group, students will answer questions about reapportioning an imaginary state.
Every Vote Counts
Students will see the importance of voting and that every vote counts.
Finding Purpose in Political Propaganda Mailers
This lesson will help students learn how to critically analyze political propaganda mailers. They will understand how political mailers can be used to better inform themselves on a political issue or candidate. Students will use research to develop an informed opinion on a political issue or candidate and they will participate in the political process via letter writing.
Winning the Seat: A Congressional Election Simulation
Political scientist Jeffrey Bernstein created this simulation of a congressional election to provide students with a solid understanding of what determines who wins and who loses these contests.
Elect Me! Creating a Campaign Platform and Advertisement
Students will be a candidate for an election as a United States Representative or Senator in the upcoming election. They will need to decide with party fits their political views best, plan, and present a 3-5 minute campaign commercial about them as a candidate, their platform, and why the voters should vote for them.
Noncompetitive Elections for Congress
American democracy faces a crisis – the crisis of noncompetitive elections. More and more, American elections consist of incumbents cruising to victory. In this lesson, students will be able to explain why congressional elections are noncompetitive, analyze the pros and cons of electing incumbents to Congress, and analyze the need for congressional term limits.
What Makes a Great Campaign Brochure?
This lesson invites students to compare and contrast the campaign brochures of two candidates for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 1950 in order to (1) determine what elements make for an effective brochure (both content and design); (2) assess the relative effectiveness of the two examples; (3) understand what messages a campaign brochure intends to send; and (4) appreciate the similarities and differences between political campaigns of today and half a century ago.
Compromise of 1850
This lesson employs the Compromise of 1850 to illustrate the process of compromise in the U.S. Congress. The Compromise was a series of five legislative enactments, passed by Congress during August and September 1850, designed to reconcile the differences then dividing the antislavery and proslavery factions of Congress and the nation.
Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise
Students will be able to explain and compare the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and the Great Compromise. Students will be able to describe the perspectives of both the smaller and larger states by reflecting on the activity in a journal entry.
The Great Compromise: A House Divided
In this lesson, students create their own solution to the problem of representation at the Constitutional Convention and read primary sources to gain different perspectives on the compromise that was actually reached. The lesson concludes with students creating a cartoon depiction of the final compromise.
Obituary as Historical Evidence
Students will understand the purposes of a eulogy and an obituary and the differences between them, identify the essential elements of both, determine which is the more authentic historical record, and be able to associate an individual's life with important historical events. This lesson is based on the eulogy and obituary for Everett Dirksen.
of the Senate: Creating a Timeline of the Senate's History
In this lesson, students select facts and milestones of the Senate to create a timeline of the Senate's history. Students make judgments about which single event would be most important to know.
a Bill Becomes Law: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
How a Bill Becomes a Law: The Case of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a student guide through the legislative process. The general purpose of this unit is to demonstrate to students the step-by-step procedure of a bill becoming a law using the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a case study. Students will understand how Congress makes laws and the role of congressional committees in this process. This will help them understand key concepts associated with the legislative process such as filibuster, cloture, bipartisan, petition, and lobbying. Additionally, they will also see how controversial social issues, such as civil rights, greatly affect the process.
Civil Rights Documentation Project
The Civil Rights Documentation Project provides a fuller accounting of law-making based on the unique archival resources housed at The Dirksen Congressional Center, including the collection of then-Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL), widely credited with securing the passage of the bills. The project takes the form of an interactive presentation with links to digitized historical materials and other Internet-based resources about civil rights legislation created by museums, historical societies, and government agencies. We hope to provide resources teachers can use to create lesson plans and materials to supplement their teaching of the legislative process, of recent American history, and of the civil rights movement, among other social studies topics.
the Roman Republic
In this lesson, students learn about the influences of the Roman Republic on our government today. Students create an advertisement persuading people that representative government is the best form of government.
Role of Congress in Formulating Policy
In the modern world, most people associate the policies that the United States pursues with the President and forget that Congress plays a major role in how those policies are formulated and carried out. Historically, there have been times when Congress has played a very strong role vis-à-vis the Executive Branch, and at other times, it has been willing to let the President carry the ball. In both situations, there have always been strong members of Congress who felt they had a constitutional duty to do more than 'rubber stamp' or just sit by idly. This may mean that they proposed legislation, tried to significantly change proposed or already enacted legislation, or in some cases, fought to prevent passage. Whatever their approach, they were instrumental in the formulation of foreign and domestic policy. In this lesson, students learn that Congress plays a major role in how policies are formulated and carried out.
Simulation Debate: Civil Rights Bill
After completing the lesson, students will (1) understand the controversy surrounding the passage of civil rights bills in the 1960s, (2) appreciate the arguments for and against civil rights legislation, and (3) experience what a debate in the Senate involves.
2, 4, 6,
8…Who Knows What's in Article I, Section 8? (or
Powers of Congress)
In this lesson, students read Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and create a poem, rap, cheer, or song that presents the powers of Congress creatively. As a wrap-up, students justify which Congressional powers they believe are most important.
The general purpose of this unit is to introduce high school students to the powers of the United States Congress through the use of CongressLink and other related Internet resources. In this unit students will develop a fundamental knowledge concerning the powers of the United States Congress, compare the powers of the U.S. legislature with that of another nation, and assess the current role of the Congress with reference to the ideology of the framers of the Constitution. This unit will help students learn to classify legislative powers, compare and contrast legislative powers, and evaluate the status of Congress today.
Power, Organization, the Differences Between the House and
the Senate, and Criticisms Then and Now
In Federalist No. 51 Madison wrote, "In a Republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconvenience is to divide the legislature into different branches." The Framers of the Constitution took great care in organizing the legislative branch of the United States government into a bicameral system to avoid overpowering the other two branches. There are distinct differences between congressional power and organization of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In this lesson, students will discuss among their group why the Framers chose to organize the legislative branch of the U.S. government in the manner that they did.
The Use of a Congressional Power
The purpose of this lesson is for the student to understand the sharing of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches in the war-making power. Students will also gain an insight into the events surrounding the declaration of war in 1941 and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964.
in the World Should Congress Do?
Students will use primary sources to decide when they think it is appropriate for Congress to intervene in foreign affairs.
and Balances: The Line Item Veto
In this lesson, students perform a series of activities culminating in a persuasive letter to their Congress Member. Citing evidence from primary sources, students construct a position on the Line-Item Veto Amendment. Students will demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, and mastery of the concepts of checks and balances in their letter.
Congress and Interest Groups
After completing this assignment, students will better understand congressional committees and interest groups. They will learn to assess the significance of the donations to committee members, consider from whom they have come, and how the donations might impact the committee vote on legislation. Students will also learn how interest groups seek to influence politicians.
Congressional Committee Simulation: Raising the Minimum Wage
This classroom simulation of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce allows students to understand the procedures and political process of committee action on a bill. Students play the roles of Republican and Democratic committee members with four different views on raising the minimum wage. After hearing arguments of opposing interest groups in a committee hearing, committee members attempt to forge a bipartisan majority through political bargaining and compromise on a bill to increase the minimum wage.
NOTE: This lesson was prepared in April 2008 when the minimum wage was $5.85 and set to increase to $6.55 on July 24. Congress has already passed legislation that will increase the minimum wage further on July 24, 2009, to $7.25. Teachers may want to introduce this lesson by saying that Congress often begins to deal with legislative issues well in advance—in other words, committees could begin taking testimony now on what the wage should be after 2009.
This lesson employs various measures of House and Senate productivity since 1947 so that students will know how legislative work is measured and evaluated.
a Television Ad for an Interest Group
In this lesson, students examine propaganda and media bias and explore the ways interest groups get their message across through the use of media campaigns. Following the development of their own interest group, students develop an advertising campaign which includes the development of a radio and television commercial.
of a Bill: Mr. Smith and You
In this lesson, students view an excerpt of the classic film "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" to learn how a bill is created and presented in Congress. Students then work in groups to develop and present their own bills to the class.
Economy Act of 1933
This lesson will introduce students to the process by which a Congress member evaluates a bill. It will provide an historical example of how a Congress member decides to vote on a bill and will illustrate by way of historical example how a Congress member justifies a vote.
Floor Debate Simulation
This unit will help teachers create a simulation of the U.S. House of Representatives floor debate process that can be adapted for use in a variety of middle school, high school, and college classrooms. In general, the simulation seeks to teach lessons about the various issues that factor in to the decision-making process of a member of Congress. Some of the issues woven into the simulation include parliamentary rules and procedures, the role of constituents, competing demands for time, competing policy interests, the role of the press, and political concerns and institutional concerns. The materials include four different established scenarios as well as resources to create a more customized case-study. The explanation and simulation would likely take place over two class periods.
Bill Becomes a Law: Charting the Path
In this lesson, students learn the steps of a bill becoming a law and use this information to write a story about "the life of a bill." Students then evaluate the effectiveness of our system of creating laws.
Identifying Legislators and the Legislative Process
The legislative branch of the federal government has a rich and eventful history. Political observers have long expressed an interest in analyzing the legislation our senators and representatives sponsor and the impact the bills have on our lives if they become law. Examining the structure, function, and output of the legislative branch produces a greater understanding of United States culture and its diverse geography and populations. This lesson is designed stresses the importance of the ability to infer and identify relationships between actions and activities using a thesis statement and supporting details.
"Iron Triangles" helps students understand how issue networks are formed at the federal level.
This is a simulation about the legislative process of logrolling. This simulation could be used as a sidelight to the lawmaking process, the committee system, or as an exercise to demonstrate a reason for client politics with concentrated benefits and distributed costs. After completing this simulation, students will have a more complete understanding of the process of logrolling, how it occurs, and what are the consequences.
Congress Work Through Leadership
Making Congress Work Through Leadership is based on statements by former House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel drawn from the archival holdings of The Dirksen Congressional Center about the nature of leading in Congress. The general purpose of this unit is to introduce students to the contrasting leadership styles practiced by different elected party leaders in Congress. This will help them understand such concepts as majority and minority roles in legislatures; the nature of deliberation, negotiation, and compromise; the context that shapes legislative leadership; and, the work of Congress more generally.
Mock Senate Simulation
This lesson will provide students with an opportunity to research a particular senator and write a bill. They also will select party leaders and learn to strategize in a party caucus. Students will work in a committee, practice reciprocity, and conduct mark-up negotiations. They will learn the basics of parliamentary procedure and special Senate rules. Legislative lingo will also be introduced. Students will participate in a mock Senate activity where they will assume the identity of their researched senator and use persuasive skills to pass their bill. They will also formally oppose one bill during floor debate. Finally, they will participate in one filibuster, invoke cloture, and attempt a discharge petition.
This is a very useful lesson plan when discussing the process of creating laws. It is also a way to help make students aware of current situations in American government. While it does not cover all aspects of creating laws, it is a great way for students to have a definite opinion about a current political issue, which helps in discussing policy standards of presidential candidates.
Simulating Congressional Action in the Classroom
After completing this lesson, students will have a practical understanding of the congressional system of committees and floor action. Students also will have engaged directly in informal negotiations with fellow student-legislators in order to get legislation passed.
Standing Committee Chest: Understanding the Standing Committees of Congress
This lesson will address the role of standing committees in Congress. Students will learn how to depict the standing committees in Congress kinesthetically and visually. They will be able to explain why each committee is important to Congress and analyze the difference between standing and select committees.
of the Union Address
In this unit, students will about the nature and purpose of the President's State of the Union message. Using George Washington's first message and Bill Clinton's most recent, the unit shows how the State of the Union message involves Congress.
The Veto Process
Students will be able to (1) summarize the veto and override process as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and used by the executive and legislative branches; (2) research and graph the correlation among the political control of the respective branches, bills introduced, and the number of vetoes and overrides.
Can You Learn about Congress from Pictures?
In this lesson, students examine different images of the Senate and House Chambers to draw conclusions about Congress. They "paint" a blank template of a Congressional Chamber with words describing the conclusions they have reached.
Congressional Scavenger Hunt
In this lesson, students work in groups to find names of Senators and Representatives, requirements to become a Congressperson, maps of states with many and few representatives, political cartoons and more for a Scavenger Hunt on Congress. Students create a poster or collage to display their findings.
in the Life of a Senator
In this lesson, students read a primary source document written by a former Senator and create skits depicting a scene in the life of a Senator. Finally, students evaluate their own potential as future Senators.
with Your Members of Congress
The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with their senators and representatives by using a variety of web sites. Students will explore their own positions on issues and then compare them with positions and policy decisions of the senators and representative. Finally, students will take part in the political process by communicating their views with a member of Congress and develop a greater understanding of the workings of a representative democracy.
Creating a Metaphor for the Three Branches of Government
Students will create a metaphor poster that completes this comparison: “The three branches of government under the Constitution are like a…” They will also design and create an illustration for their metaphor, complete with a brief written explanation of why the metaphor is accurate. Each group’s metaphor must have the features listed in the lesson plan.
Representative is Congress?
Students become aware of certain characteristics of the membership (i.e., ethnicity, age, gender, and political party affiliation) of Congress and determine if Congress is representative of the public as a whole. Students will gain an understanding of the sociopolitical and sociological nature of Congress, an important aspect of "representation" and related to the unit What Every Student Should Know About Congress.
Introducing the Freshman Class of the 111th Congress
Students become aware of certain characteristics of the membership (i.e., ethnicity, age, gender, and political party affiliation) of the 65 freshman members of the 111th House of Representatives (2009-2010) and determine if these new members are representative of the public as a whole. Students will gain an understanding of the sociopolitical and sociological nature of Congress, an important aspect of "representation" and related to the unit What Every Student Should Know About Congress.
The Job of
a Member of Congress
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the complex job of a Congress member. While the U.S. Constitution outlines the general qualifications and responsibilities of the office, the tasks accruing to a Congress member because of pressures not expressed in the Constitution and the elastic clause make the job more complex than a casual observer might think. The United States Constitution, past/current events, and CongressLink resources will facilitate student understanding of the complex role of a Congress member.
Legislative Branch - Want Ads: An Introductory Lesson
In this lesson, students will determine the qualifications for Congress and create want ads for the positions of senator and congressman. They will evaluate how the principles of government assist or impede the functioning of the government. They will think creatively, critically, and strategically to make effective decisions, solve problems, and achieve goals. After students read Article 1 of the United States Constitution, they will complete a chart entitled “Comparing the House and Senate.” Students will use the information they collected to complete the attached “Comparing the House and Senate” chart and write a want ad for a congressman and senator.
Your Views Known: Writing a Letter to Congress
In this lesson, students read sample letters to Congress, choose an issue of concern in the nation, and write their own letters to a Congressperson.
Meet Your Representatives
Who represents you at the federal level? How about in state government? County? Local? How well do these people represent you and the people of your state and district? These important questions will become even more vital when your students become qualified to vote, for casting an informed ballot is a key responsibility for all citizens. Fortunately, there is no shortage of information about your representatives. Your students will develop a profile of the men and women highlighted in this lesson. They will put together their research and that of their classmates to develop a portrait of who stands up for them at all levels of government.
Makes a Congressional Leader?
The student will understand the qualities that make a leader. More specifically, the student will understand those qualities a Senate or House leader must possess. They will also realize that leadership is not one dimensional but reliant upon many different circumstances and attributes.
Mock Constitutional Convention
The purpose of this lesson is to provide students an opportunity to step into the shoes of the framers of the United States Constitution to analyze and evaluate the social, political, economic and geographical forces that shaped the United States Constitution. Students will conduct research in the role of one of the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention and then participate in civil discourse as the delegates might have 200+ years ago using the principles of parliamentary procedure. Students will have "reality checks" throughout the experience to compare their convention results with the actual U.S. Constitution.
One of the most important but least used powers of Congress is the ability to amend the Constitution. Since ratification, over 7,000 amendments have been proposed, only 33 passed by Congress, and just 26 ratified by the states. In this lesson, students become familiar with both ratified and failed amendments, connect a current amendment proposal before Congress with past efforts, determine how decisions are made with regard to amendments, and develop an original proposal for an amendment.
In this lesson, students analyze the basic components of the U.S. Constitution in order to create a "class constitution" to be used to maintain order and discipline throughout the school year.
The general purpose of this unit is to teach students the amendments to the Constitution through the use of CongressLink, Internet resources, and creative activities. In this unit students will gain a sense of their rights as United States citizens, as well as the reality that many rights are limited and controversial.
The U.S. Constitution Power Grab Game
The purpose of this lesson plan is to encourage students to comprehend these points of emphasis and relate them to the study of the three branches of the federal government. Several activities are described. The culminating activity is the “Power Grab Game” given before the final test on the Constitution unit. Students will be able to (1) identify the three branches of American government, (2) describe the function of each branch of government, (3) explain how the “checks and balances” system functions to protect the individual citizen from power-hungry politicians, (4) describe how each branch of government is “separate” in its powers from the other branches of government, and (5) explain how the amendments to the Constitution function today.
You Can Lead a Class to Water, But Can You Make It Think?
(An Activity for Teaching the Concept of “Implied Power”)*
A dramatic scene in a high school government or civics class provides the setting. Students follow a process of inductive reasoning in a situation which is especially relevant to their daily lives. In the scene, the teacher grants a student permission to get a drink of water and the student begins to leave the room. But does he or she have “implied” authority to get out of his seat, open the door, and walk out into the hall?
Introduction to Representative Government
In this lesson, students compare rule-making by one to rule-making by many through simulations, class discussions, and the creation of a Venn diagram.
Congress: A Vocabulary Review
The purpose of this lesson is to review students’ knowledge of key concepts and terms related to Congress.
and the Courts
Students will analyze the United States Constitution to discern the relationship between Congress and the federal courts, the attributes they deem important in a judge, and how the courts can influence legislation. Students will also apply to principle of judicial review to legislation as they take on the role of a federal judge.
Congress and Gay Marriage
The objective of this lesson is two-fold. First is to educate students on the history of “gay marriage,” that is, how Congress has approached the debate over gay marriage and what legislation Congress members have passed or attempted to pass on this issue. The second is to have students discuss their feelings on this issue and have them attempt to understand how Congress members must balance their own personal views with those of their constituents and what might be best for the nation.
Accomplishments…What Has Congress Done for You?
In this lesson, students use primary and secondary sources to become experts on a law Congress has passed and teach each other about the laws they have researched. Students then illustrate the impact of one of these laws with "before" and "after" pictures and justify the importance of the law in writing.
Congress on Trial
Students will become members of the Grand Jury. They will look at evidence and determine whether or not the actions of Congress contributed to the Civil War. Since Congress made decisions, each will be presented as its own charge. In other words, each of the decisions will be scrutinized and independently evaluated. All decisions must be unanimous.
a Citizen's Guide to Congress
In this lesson, students bring all previous lessons together by creating a citizen's guide to Congress.
Design Your Own Interest Group Network: The Nader Formula
This project is designed for students to create interest groups. In the process of creating their interest groups, they will explore the development of interest groups, use case studies to show their significance in legislation, and delve into the world of campaign finance. At the end of the project students create a 30-60 second commercial spot promoting their interest groups and calling other people to action.
Matter if We Participate in Representative Government? A
In this lesson, students participate in a Socratic seminar to discuss and defend the importance of participating in representative government.
Everett Dirksen Chooses a Sketch
Students will evaluate the elements of political cartooning by examining the decision of Senator Everett M. Dirksen to substitute a drawing for a photograph in the Pocket Congressional Directory. Students will select an editorial cartoon from The Center's extensive online collection that best depicts the qualities of the senator.
Involved: How Can You Participate in Representative Government?
In this lesson, students examine the different ways people can participate in representative government through class discussions, group work, and investigation of primary and secondary sources. Students create commercials that inform viewers how to get involved in representative government.
Government Holiday Tree
Students will create a homemade ornament depicting a vocabulary term for the government holiday tree adorned with red, white, and blue lights. The ornament will depict a government term. After placing their ornament on the tree, students will provide a "show and tell" explaining how their ornament illustrates a government term or concept.
Greater Debates Issue #1: Does the Two-Party System Adequately Represent the People?
Many current issues are debated in government classes, issues that real representatives debate in Congress. Yet, there are larger or “greater” issues that deal with core ideas, philosophies or values behind American government that divide politicians or students of politics. In this lesson, the first of three, students will learn, read, and debate the merits of the two-party system. Assignments for this and the next two debates will consist of (a) preview reading/journal, (b) reading and recording of points from a “yes” or “no” point of view, (c) meeting with an opposite point of view, recording notes, and discussing, and (d) post-reading journal. An all-class debate will occur for only some topics.
Many current issues are debated in government classes, issues that real representatives debate in Congress. Yet, there are larger or “greater” issues that deal with core ideas, philosophies or values behind American government that divide politicians or students of politics. In this lesson, the second of three, students will learn, read, and debate the merits of the separation of powers. Assignments for this and the next debate will consist of (a) preview reading/journal, (b) reading and recording of points from a “yes” or “no” point of view, (c) meeting with an opposite point of view, recording notes, and discussing, and (d) post-reading journal. An all-class debate will occur for only some topics.
Greater Debate Issues #3: Should Moral Principle Matter in Politics?
Many current issues are debated in government classes, issues that real representatives debate in Congress. Yet, there are larger or “greater” issues that deal with core ideas, philosophies or values behind American government that divide politicians or students of politics. In this lesson, the last of three, students will learn, read, and debate the merits of the separation of powers. Assignments for this debate will consist of (a) preview reading/journal, (b) reading and recording of points from a “yes” or “no” point of view, (c) meeting with an opposite point of view, recording notes, and discussing, and (d) post-reading journal. An all-class debate will occur for only some topics.
Knowledge is Power
This activity kicks off a mock Congress activity by forming committees and demonstrating the importance of knowledge as power. Students will be introduced to the concept of “seniority,” too.
Political Cartoon Analysis
Students will understand that political cartoons may send messages as strongly as documents and speeches. As a result of this activity, students will know that primary sources have perspective and a purpose. Studying political cartoons and analysis will enable students to: (1) evaluate and gather information from a first person narrative, (2) analyze, interpret, and synthesize political cartoon primary sources, and, (3) identify and use clues from an illustration and text to make decisions about the cartoons meaning.
Political Cartoon Interpretation
In this lesson, students learn to evaluate political cartoons for their meaning, message, and persuasiveness. Students will learn about the artistic techniques cartoonists frequently use. They will also analyze a political cartoon and determine whether they agree or disagree with the author’s message.
The Public’s View of Congress: A Study in Contrasts Through Film
After completing this lesson, students will (1) gain an understanding of the public’s perception of Congress over time as represented in film, and (2) see how film-makers depict Congress.
The Saga of the Money Trail - Developing the Federal Budget
In this lesson, students will trace the steps in the federal budget-making process. They will recognize the complexity involved in the budget process, including the competing demands for funds. Students will all analyze how compromise leads to the final budget.
Special Interest Groups: How Do They Influence Congress in Establishing Policy?
This assignment involves doing basic research on a special interest groups.
After completing the lesson, students will gain a working knowledge of what it means to be part of a group that is responsible for establishing a government.
What Are My Political Views?
Students will analyze their political beliefs by responding to questions about public policy issues. The results will place them on a political spectrum.
Why Do We Need a Congress Anyway?
In this lesson, students will understand the responsibilities, rights, and privileges of United States citizens. They will develop and employ the civic skills necessary for effective, participatory citizenship. They will determine ways to ask for specific remedies to problems and learn how to communicate with their own representatives in Congress.
This 10-week unit is designed to engage middle school students in a series of creative and multi-disciplinary activities that will help them understand representative government - how the ideas for representative government evolved, how our current Congress functions, and how today's citizens can participate in representative government. In the 15 lesson plans presented here, activities include students examining primary sources, conducting a Congressional Scavenger Hunt, acting out scenes from a day in a Senator's life, and writing letters to members of Congress. These lessons include reproducible activity handouts and graphic organizers created to help students with varied learning styles both visualize Congress in the past and present and break information down in comprehensible ways. While the materials comprise a cohesive unit, the individual lesson plans stand on their own. This project is supported by a Robert H. Michel Civic Education Grant sponsored by The Dirksen Congressional Center, Pekin, IL. The author is Hilary G. Conklin who currently teaches 6th and 8th grade social studies at Lincoln School in Providence, RI.