Democracy is the foundation of many societies. Visit these sites to learn
explore its complexity and how it works in the United States.
A More Perfect Union: An Exploration of American Democracy was developed by teens in Arkansas and Kentucky. An entry in the 1999 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge, the site looks at some of the basic elements of democracy, potential problems democracy faces, solutions from multiple viewpoints, and various sociologists’ views on government.
PBS by the People developed The Democracy Project to provide language arts, social studies, and math teachers with activities and lesson plans that introduce students in grades 3-6 to the structure and functions of local, state and federal government and explore how they affect everyday lives through laws, institutions, and community services. One section describes presidential duties and fosters critical thinking about skills needed to be a good president. Also provided are a history of voting rights in the U.S. and a discussion of why voting and other forms of civic involvement are essential to a healthy democracy.
Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government is a celebration of the life and times of Benjamin Franklin. To honor Franklin’s 300th birthday, the U.S. Government Printing Office offers an expanded biography of Franklin and links to further information on his life, games, and activities. Designed for elementary school children, this site offers an in-depth look at Benjamin Franklin not only as a famous statesman, but also the inventor of many things that are still used today. Did you know he invented swim fins and a “glass armonica,” in addition to bifocals and the Franklin stove?
The fun Democracy Kids Web site presents information on Congress and civics through a variety of interactive games and other activities. Designed for 4-6th grade students, features include crossword puzzles highlighting key concepts of democracy and government, a “Tour of the Town” showing how government affects our lives, and a “Being Involved” survey that encourages students and parents to talk about civic engagement.
Learn About Congress from the Center on Congress at Indiana University provides multimedia learning activities designed to give high school students and adults you a fresh perspective on how the United States Congress works and their role in the process. Eleven separate modules provide an in-depth look at the workings of Congress.
The White House for Kids gives young U.S. residents the chance to learn about the White House and the president with features such as video clips, quizzes and games, photos, and a variety of other educational activities. Developed and maintained by the White House staff, the site provides information for both teachers and students. A historical overview and video tours of the White House, and information about traditions that the President and First Lady observe every year, are included.
Kids and Politics.org was developed by the Connect for Kids (CFK), an independent nonprofit organization, in order to track the issues that matter the most for young people and families. Updated weekly, Kids and Politics.org is designed to provide adults—parents, grandparents, guardians, educators, advocates, policymakers, elected officials, and others—with the tools and information they need to improve the lives of children, youth, and families.
Developed and maintained by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, Mr. President: Profiles of our Nation’s Leaders provides kids and teachers with interesting facts about every U.S. president.
Civics Online, [Re]envisioning the Democratic Community provides students, teachers, and parents with a variety of source materials, learning tools, and professional development resources selected to enrich civics projects. Developed and maintained by Michigan State University, the site offers timelines with important dates in history and a glossary of civic terms. A Civic Exploration section traces civic themes and uses primary sources geared for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 to consider the case of young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez, inviting students to think about whether the boy should remain with relatives in the U.S. or return to his father in Cuba.
Iroquois Confederacy and the U.S. Constitution was developed and is maintained by Portland State University. This curricular unit looks at the influence of one Native American culture on the Founding Fathers’ ideas about democracy, governmental structures, the rights of the individual, and the public good. These lessons for high school and college students can help teachers develop a comparison of the Iroquois Confederacy's Great Law of Peace and the U.S. Constitution.
Minnesota Youth in Government is a nationwide YMCA program for middle school and high school students. Focused on promoting understanding of local, state, national, and international concerns, the site helps students research interaction with adult and youth leaders involved in decision-making and develop an understanding of political systems and the forum they provide for effective, peaceful resolution of issues. Parts of the site are based on model Assembly and United Nations programs.
The Democracy in Action Web site provides information about some of the founders of democracy and fosters the expression of democracy through student government. Students can learn about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, see examples of student government, learn about democratic places and symbols, find links to more information, and respond to and post their views on democracy and student government. Maintained by ThinkQuest, this site is suitable for upper elementary and middle school classes.
The Impeachment Process describes how this process works in the United States, showing why no one is above the law in the U.S., not even the president. A detailed process description and quick reference guide are provided, along with a gallery of impeached presidents that includes information about how impeachment affected presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. The site was a 1998 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge winner and is suitable for middle and high school students.
The Three Branches of Government presents a ‘Tree of Government’ as a guide to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of U.S. government. Middle and high school students are encouraged to explore all areas of the site and take one of the three interactive trivia tests. They can learn how the Constitution created the three branches of government, the composition of current U.S. leadership, and how U.S. government works for the good of the people. This site is maintained by ThinkQuest.
Designed by kids for kids, Through the Eyes of Tomorrow’s Leaders chronicles students’ visits to Washington, DC. As future leaders of our country, the creators of this ThinkQuest Web site share their impressions, and new knowledge about democracy. Included are original photos, results of surveys about students’ impressions, a Washington, DC, IQ test, and visitor information about historic sites.
The Representative Democracy in America: Voices of the People project provides exceptional video and Web-based materials for students.
50 Years of Indian Independence explores India and the leaders who helped transform it from a Third World country into one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Middle and high school students are told that India is one of the largest nations in the world, gained independence from Great Britain in 1945, and is now a successful democracy with a self-sustaining economy and even its own space program. Maintained by ThinkQuest, the site comes from G.D. Goenka Public School, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.
Last updated 4/19/2011
Check out more Social Studies videos and teacher resources from Wisconsin Media Lab. Visit WIMediaLab.org if you are a Wisconsin student or teacher.
In the ECB produced video series “democracy it is!” students get an inside look at how their peers define democracy and what they are doing to make a difference in their own communities.