New DocsTeach Activity: Congress in Article I of the U.S. Constitution

In our newest activity on DocsTeach.org, students match primary source documents to clauses from Article I of the United States Constitution that detail six powers of Congress.

A rolled up "railroad bill" caricature, with top hat in hand and O.K. stamps from the House and Senate, rings the White House doorbell.

The railroad bill caricature, with top hat in hand and O.K. stamps from both the House and the Senate on his frock coat, rings the doorbell at the White House. “Anyone Home?,” 2/24/1920, From the Records of the U.S. Senate. National Archives Identifier 6011590.

The Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives created Congress in Article I of the United States Constitution to reinforce the idea of separation of powers between branches by highlighting six of the powers the Founders specifically granted to Congress.

We suggest using this lesson to introduce students in grades 5–8 to studying the text of the Constitution.  Students may complete this activity in pairs or small groups.  The activity can be found on our special DocsTeach page, Teaching with the Records of Congress, or directly here.

Congress in Article I activity

Students will begin the activity by analyzing each document for a possible link to Article I of the Constitution. They should match each document with one clause from Article I, identifying six pairs to reveal some of the characteristics and powers of Congress.

Once they have matched the pairs and clicked “I’m Done,” they will be prompted to reflect on the pairs they have identified and the rest of Article I.

A final class discussion will follow based on the question: What characteristics and powers of Congress justify its being referred to as the “people’s branch of government”?

You can follow up on this activity with the lesson Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution from the Center for Legislative Archives.

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