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2008 Comprehensive Curriculum 4th Grade Social Studies Links

Activity 5:  Founding Fathers (GLEs: 27, 57) 

Materials List:  biographies of signers of the Declaration of Independence, copy of the Declaration of Independence

Explain to the students that the Founding Fathers were faced with an important decision in 1776. Should they continue to endure the unfair rules enforced by King George, or should they declare America’s independence from England and establish a new nation?  Declaring independence from England would be very dangerous for the Founding Fathers.  If caught, American leaders would be tried as traitors and sentenced to death. In this activity, students will be asked to consider what individual signers risked by signing the Declaration of Independence.

Have students work in pairs to read the biography of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Students can choose the Founding Father to research or the teacher can assign an individual to each student pair.  Have each group write a short paragraph about their assigned Founding Founder and identify what he risked in choosing to sign the Declaration of Independence. 

Next, have the students re-create the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Place a copy of the Declaration on a table in the center of the classroom.   Each pair will choose a member to assume the role of the group’s assigned Founding Father.  One-by-one, students will approach the table and announce who they are and what they risk by putting their names on this document.

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