Lesson Plan

Declare the Causes: The Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence: July 4th 1776
Photo caption

Declaration of Independence: July 4th 1776.

Complaints! Complaints!

Students have been known to complain at times. (So have their teachers.) Even the Founding Fathers of our country indulged in gripe sessions. In fact, a list of grievances comprises the longest section of the Declaration of Independence; however, the source of the document's power is its firm philosophic foundation.

Through the lens of the human propensity to complain, you can encourage students to recognize the principles, motivations, and precedents that underlie the Declaration of Independence. Help your students understand the development of the Declaration as both a historical process and a compositional process through role play, creative writing, an introduction to important documents and a review of historic events.

Guiding Questions

What precedents exist for specific elements in the Declaration of Independence, both in previous documents and in historical events?

How is the Declaration structured?

Learning Objectives

Describe and list the sections of the Declaration of Independence and explain the purpose of each.

Give an example of a document that served as a precedent for the Declaration of Independence.

Identify and explain one or more of the colonists' complaints included in the Declaration of Independence.

Demonstrate an awareness of the Declaration of Independence as a historical process developed in protest of unfair conditions.