Identifying the ideas of George Mason and Thomas Jefferson as expressed in the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the VIrginia Statue for Religious Freedom.
SUGGESTED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES
- Guide students to understand that the ideas expressed in the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom served as models for the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America.
- Tell students that the Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, states that all Virginians should have certain rights, including freedom of religion and freedom of the press. The document became the basis for the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America.
- Pictures of George Mason and Thomas Jefferson can be found at The New Nation.pdf.
- Show a picture of George Mason, and discuss how his Virginia documents were used to help create documents for the new nation. Explain that he was concerned about individual rights. Ask the students to define rights. List their responses and relate how the Constitution protects people’s rights. Refer to the Bill of Rights and explain how it was added after the Constitution was written. Tell students that the first ten amendments (or revisions) are called the Bill of Rights and are based on George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights.
- Use the following Web sites to have the students read and research the Virginia Declaration of Rights:
Virginia Declaration of Rights at the National Archives Web site: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/virginia_declaration_of_rights.html
“Historic Human Rights Documents” at the Gunston Hall Plantation Web site: http://www.gunstonhall.org/index.php/george-mason/rights-documents
- Show a picture of Thomas Jefferson, and have students recall what they know about him. Remind students that when the colonists came they were required to worship in the same church. Explain that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, says that people should be free to worship as they please. Explain that the document was written first for the Virginia Colony, but later became part of the United States Constitution as the First Amendment, which protects religious freedom.
- Describe Thomas Jefferson by reading a simple biography of his life at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/thomasjefferson.
- Use the following Web sites as a resource for students to complete graphic organizer about Thomas Jefferson:
Graphic Organizers at http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer
“Thomas Jefferson” at the White House Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/thomasjefferson/
- Use the following Web sites to introduce the students to the Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom:
“Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom” at PBS: http://www.pbs.org/jefferson/enlight/religi.htm
“Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom” at the Library of Virginia: http://www.virginiamemory.com/ . . ./religious_freedom
- Optional activity: Divide the class into four groups. Have one child per group lie on butcher paper while others trace his or her outline. Have the students turn the outline into George Washington, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison. Have the group dress the figure and list the contributions of each patriot in forming the new nation.
TEACHER BACKGROUND RESOURCES