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Learning about Independence Day, Grades 6-12

Lessons & Activities, Background Reading, and More

Found Inlanguage artssocial studies, 6-8, 9-12

Learn about the men and ideas that influenced the writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence and how the 4th of July has been celebrated over the years with these lessons, activities, and other resources.

Lesson Plans & Activities

Lesson Plans

In The Declaration of Independence: Rewriting the Rough Draft, students in grades 4-12 examine Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and then write their own version. Includes Common Core and State Standards.

The Declaration of Independence In this 5 lesson unit, students in grades 7-12 summarize selections and demonstrate their understanding of the complete document in a short essay. Teachers must create an account to use the resource.

In Drafting the Declaration: The Jefferson Desk and the Declaration of Independence students in grades 9-12 consider the Jefferson desk and the Declaration of Independence as objects that are valuable sources of historical information.


Mission US: For Crown or Colony? The Game (5-8) is an interactive adventure game designed to improve an understanding of American history. Players must register.

A (Digital) Declaration of Independence (6-12) Features a high-resolution scan of the Declaration and transcription of the text, an annotated version of John Trumbull's 1819 painting, and an interactive map that plots the signers' hometowns.

Background Resources

Creating the Declaration of Independence (Library of Congress)
Jefferson's first draft and changes made by the congressional committee and English, Scottish, and American sources Jefferson used in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents A special exhibition.

Declaration of Independence video (7:51) background to DofI. Transcript included.

Every Man for Himself: American Individualism A reading of the Declaration of Independence in terms of 18th century regard for the individual. Includes a timeline, questions, and Instructor ( PDF, 4 MB, 53 pgs.).

Independence Day Teaching resources and quizzes.

Our Documents presents a Teacher Sourcebook ( PDF, 4.2 MB, 76 pgs.76 pgs.) about 100 historical documents including the Declaration of Independence with annotated timeline, key themes, guidelines to primary sources, and lesson plans for grades 4-12.

Prequel to Independence is a chronological collection of primary and secondary sources that concern events leading up to the Declaration of Independence.

Principles of Freedom documents spanning 1765-1823.

Teaching the Declaration without Overwhelming Students Approaches for visual and verbal learners.

Thomas Jefferson: Man of the Millennium presents Jefferson's  contributions to the new nation, the evolution of liberty, selected writing, and Jefferson

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776 An excerpt from a letter John Adams wrote in 1822 describing the writing of the Declaration of Independence.


Books & Video


  • The Signers: The 56 Stories behind the Declaration of Independence
    By Dennis Brindell Fradin and Michael McCurdy
    Walker Books for Young Readers (January 1, 2003)
  • The Signers of the Declaration of Independence
    By Robert Ferris and Richard Morris
    Interpretive Publications (June 1982)


  • July 4th (The History Channel)
    12 brief videos and 4 photo galleries.
  • 1776 The Musical
    Excerpts from the 1972 film version of the musical.


last updated: May 2, 2016


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Learning about Independence Day