Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”


A German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers

These sample lessons are drawn from the full Why America Is Free curriculum. Each is adjusted to stand alone as a supplemental civics lesson while providing a taste of the curriculum’s experiential style. Explore this website to learn more about the fully integrated, interdisciplinary experience of Why America is Free. 

Should I Or Shouldn't I?

“Should I or Shouldn’t I?” Self-Governance Through Principle-Based Reasoning

An Enlightenment Principle-Based Decision-Making Technique Used by 18th Century Americans

This lesson gives students a reliable reasoning tool with which they can govern their own behavior, assess the behavior of others, and examine laws and rules. Simultaneously, use of this technique will give them insight into the reasoning approach of educated 18th Century Americans —how and why they made many of the decisions they did.

Civility—Key To Self-Government

Civility—Key to Self-Government

The drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was a product of respectful discussion, a practice that involves explaining your views, listening and trying to understand other perspectives, and treating all with courtesy even when not in agreement. In this lesson, students observe and participate in both noncivil discussion behavior and civil and learn that the rules of behavior help different people work together and lead to workable solutions.

Book Of Heroes

Book Of Heroes

Discerning Character Traits and Guiding Civic Principle from History

This lesson introduces the practice of attempting to recognize character traits and civic principles followed by people from history based on their actions and their own words. Students decide which of these behaviors and their guiding principles they admire and wish to follow.

Bill Of Rights Jingle

Bill of Rights Jingle

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect our most cherished rights as Americans. In this lesson, students use meter, rhyme and performance to put the Bill of Rights into a jingle that they will never forget.

Coining Money

Coining Money

Federal, Not State

What would happen to interstate commerce if every state created and regulated its own money? In this lesson, students find out as they make their own money and then try to trade with each other. They learn why the Constitution assigned this job to the federal government.

Treaties—A Federal, Not State Power

Treaties—a Federal, Not State Power

When states joined the United States, they had to give up certain powers.. One of these is the power to make treaties, legal agreements with other countries. Students experience the dilemma of the state leaders, who represent their constituents’ interests, and discover the reasons that the federal government is responsible for agreements that affect everyone.

Apportionment—Lets Be Fair!

Apportionment mathLet’s Be Fair!

In this lesson students will learn about Congressional apportionment in our federal government and use math skills to compare the ratio of US Representatives to the populations in several states.

Not In My House!

Not in My House!

In this lesson students will use creative writing to illustrate their understanding of Amendment III.

Show Me The Body

Show Me the Body

In this lesson students learn about the protections of writs of habeas corpus.

Scene One Take Two

Scene One Take Two

In this lesson students learn to distinguish between civil and criminal wrongs and how they are handled.