Landmark United States Court Cases Activities for High School

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

While students learn about the judicial branch of the United States government, consider using these activities to help them identify landmark court cases and understand their importance in American history.

Case Closed

Sometimes the sound of a judge's gavel just means the end of a case. Other times, the end of a case can bring about a drastic change in the history of the United States.

When students study landmark court cases, they can learn how the judicial process has brought forth changes in the government, society, and culture of the United States throughout the years. Consider using these activities to help students identify and connect with landmark court cases in the United States.

Outcome Match

Students will engage in a matching game to connect landmark cases to their outcomes.

Materials

  • Index cards
  • Marker

Teacher Directions

Preparation

  • Create sets of index cards that contain cards listing landmark court cases in the United States and cards with their corresponding case outcomes.
  • Consider using cases such as:
    • Marbury v. Madison
    • Gibbons v. Ogden
    • Brown v. Board of Education
    • Dred Scott v. Sanford
    • Plessy v. Ferguson
    • Near v. Minnesota
    • Roe v. Wade
    • Miranda v. Arizona

Activity

  • Introduce the landmark court cases you included in the sets of index cards. Have students discuss each case and the outcome.
  • Divide students into groups and provide each group with a set of the index cards you created.
  • Groups should match the landmark court case to its correct outcome.
  • Students should discuss how each case impacted the history of the United States and the daily lives of Americans.

Discussion Questions

  • How did these landmark court cases change United States history?
  • Which case do you think had the most impact on Americans' lives? Why?

ABCs of a Case

Students will come up with words/phrases, starting with each letter of the alphabet, to describe a landmark case.

Materials

  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Access to print/online resources

Teacher Directions

  • Review important landmark court cases, like the ones in the 'Outcome Match' activity, with the students.
  • Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with chart paper and markers.
  • Assign each group one of the landmark court cases. Have students use print/online resources to further research the case.
  • Each group will create a list of words/phrases having to do their case. Groups should try to come up with a word/phrase for each letter of the alphabet. For example, students assigned Miranda v. Arizona, might have the following words: 'Arrest, Bringing him in for questioning, Circumstantial evidence‚Ķ'
  • When students are finished, have them share their ABC lists with the class.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support