Explaining why George Washington is called the "Father of our Country" and James Madison is called the "Father of the Constitution."
SUGGESTED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES
TEACHER BACKGROUND RESOURCES
- Begin the lesson by telling students that Virginia played an important role in the establishment of the new American nation. The actions and ideas of Virginians formed the basis for the new constitutional government of the United States.
- Pictures of George Washington, James Madison, George Mason and Thomas Jefferson can be found at The New Nation.pdf.
- Post a picture of George Washington, and ask students to recall what they already know about him. List responses on a chart. Review or explain the following: Washington is called the “Father of our Country.” He was the first President of the United States of America. He was a leader of the Continental Army. George Washington provided strong leadership to help the young country. He provided a model of leadership for future presidents.
- Have students complete a graphic organizer about George Washington, using the following resources:
Graphic organizers at http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer
“George Washington” at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/history/us/pres/washington/index.shtml
“George Washington.” Anne Pemberton, 2002 at http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/famamer/GWashington.html
“George Washington” at The White House Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/georgewashington
- Explain why George Washington, a Virginian, was elected as the first President of the United States of America. He provided the strong leadership needed to help the young country and provided a model of leadership for future presidents. Thus, he is often called the “Father of Our Country.”
- Introduce another famous Virginian, James Madison. Emphasize that he is called “Father of the Constitution.” A constitution is a set of rules and laws that tells how a government is organized and run. Discuss why rules are made. Review how rules were made at the beginning of the school year. Ask students, “If a new country is being formed, what are some of the things that could happen if there were no rules that people had to follow?” Have the students draw their ideas and share. Discuss the reasons for rules: protection, safety, and order. Review that a constitution is a plan of government that outlines how the government is organized and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
- Explain why James Madison believed in the importance of having a United States constitution. He kept detailed notes during the Constitutional Convention. His skills at compromise helped the delegates reach agreement during the difficult process of writing the Constitution of the United States of America. This earned him the title “Father of the Constitution.”
- Use the following Web sites to guide the students in a brief introduction to the Constitution:
Charters of Freedom at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html
- Use the following Web sites as a resource for students to complete a graphic organizer about James Madison:
Graphic Organizers at http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer
“James Madison” at The White House Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/jamesmadison
- Identify James Madison's efforts to help the Constitution become the cornerstone of American government. Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids provides background information for students to research how the Founding Fathers worked to get the states to accept the Constitution. http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/documents/constitution/index.html
Visit the Mount Vernon Web site, which includes an Education Resources section. Here you will find Biographical Information, George Washington and Slavery, Image Gallery and Electronic Trading Cards, and an Online Quiz.
As part of its series on American Presidents, the White House Web site presents George Washington, the "Father of Our Country."
Learn about the past at Montpelier, the lifelong home of James Madison, "Father of the Constitution" in Orange County, Virginia.
This student resource includes a picture and biography of President James Madison.
Enter the Exhibit Hall of the Founding Fathers and learn about the Charters of Freedom and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
This site offers ten concise, easy-to-read chapters on Virginia history from prehistoric times to the present. The chapters “Becoming Virginians” and “Becoming Americans” are applicable to this unit.