The Declaration of Independence Activity: Declaration Scavenger Hunt
Distribute Handout A: Declaration of Independence. Cut out and distribute Handout B: Scavenger Hunt Slips. For homework or classwork, either individually or in groups, have students find out how the person, place, or thing on their slip was/is related to the Declaration of Independence. Have students share their findings with the class.
The Declaration of Independence Activity: The Structure of the Declaration
Divide the class into 6 groups. Distribute Handout A: Declaration of Independence and Handout C: The Structure of the Declaration to each group. Assign each group one section of the Declaration to focus on; additionally, all groups should consider the signature section. Note: the Indictments section is divided between two groups because of its length.
Have students skim their sections of the Declaration and record the key ideas for their sections as shown on Handout C. After each group has reported the purpose and main ideas of its section, lead a discussion of these questions:
Why include a long list of grievances?
Why is it important that the colonists had tried to get the King to change the way he treated them?
Which do you believe is the most important section? Why?
What is the relevance of the Declaration’s principles today?
What does the Declaration assert about consent of the governed?
What does the Declaration assert about the origin of our rights?
The Declaration of Independence Activity: Key Excerpts
Distribute copies of Handout D: Key Excerpts to students and have them underline what they believe are the most important words and phrases from these excerpts of the Declaration of Independence. Lead a whole-class discussion of the questions on Handout D.
The Declaration of Independence Activity: The Declaration, the Founders, and Slavery
Have students read Handout E: The Declaration, The Founders and Slavery, and, working in small groups, discuss the quotations on the back. Select your favorite quotation and put it in your own words. Discuss to clarify any confusing vocabulary. Ask students: Which quotation seems most relevant to modern times?
Handout F: Slavery Essay might be used as an extension resource.
Handout E: The Declaration, The Founders, and Slavery
The Declaration of Independence Activity: Comparing the Second Treatise to the Declaration
Provide each student with a copy of Handout G: Comparing the Second Treatise of Civil Government to the Declaration of Independence, and have students work in small groups to identify similarities and differences between the two documents as they answer the questions at the end.
Handout G: Comparing the Second Treatise of Civil Government to the Declaration of Independence