Classroom Activities: 

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Declaration of Independence: Analysis with Picture and Document

Lesson Overview


Using primary sources (the Declaration of Independence and an artist rendition of signing) to study the document setting us free from Great Britain. Students will look at and analyze the picture first before reading the document.

Grade Range:



After completing this activity students will be able to:

  • Understand the written document of the Declaration of Independence.

  • Analyze how this document affected the people living during this time period.

  • Discuss how this is the foundation of our democracy today.

Time Required:

 1.5 Class periods of 40 minutes


 Civics, Social Studies


 Government, Law


 The American Revolution, 1763-1783


Illinois Learning Standards:

Social Studies:

14.E.4   Analyze historical trends of United States foreign policy (e.g.,  
           emergence as a world leader-military, industrial, financial.
14.F.3a Analyze historical influences on the development of political ideas and
           practices as enumerate din the Declaration of Independence, the United
           States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Illinois Constitution.
14.F.4a Determine the historical events and processes that brought about
           changes in United States political ideas and traditions (e.g., the New 
           Deal, Civil War).



 Analysis Tools

Analysis Tools:

The More You Look, the More You See, Written Document Analysis


American Government by Prentice Hall Textbooks


Available in PDF

Library of Congress Items:

Declaration of Independence


Declaration of Independence




Have LOC primary source image up on Smart Board when students enter classroom and hand out photo analysis worksheet. Go over questions with the students then allow them time to look at the photo and to answer the questions.


Interject questions about women not being in photo, windows covered, papers on table, etc. 


Day Two:


Have students open up their textbooks to the Declaration of Independence (p.40) and put up the picture of the broadside.


Have students look at the Written Document Analysis sheet and go over as a class the First Look portion.


Break students into small groups and have them read the Declaration of Independence and answer the Content Information portion of the analysis sheet.


As a class go over Content Information: What would the colonist list all their problems with the King? What were they hoping to gain by doing this?


Have students take a quiz over the Declaration of Independence using PowerPoint slide (available in PDF)


During classroom discussion ascertain student understanding. Rotate through groups to clarify question sand listen to small group discussions. Collect written pages, analyze work for understanding and give feedback. Students will take a quiz over the work discussed.

Author Credits:

M. Kirby
Sullivan High School