The Constitutional Convention Simulation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

This lesson plan begins with a video to introduce to students the Constitutional Convention and how it shaped American history as we know it. Students will then use this knowledge to actively participate in a Constitutional Convention simulation.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define the Virginia Plan, New Jersey Plan, and Connecticut Compromise
  • Use primary sources to explore the attitudes, motivations, and beliefs of Americans in the Constitutional Convention
  • Work in groups to study documents, create an argument, and defend a position


90 - 120 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.


Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.


  • Copies of lesson quiz
  • Packets of primary and secondary sources about the Virginia and New Jersey Plans, including the transcripts for the original presentation of each plan


  • Start class by making sure that students are caught up with the events between the end of the American Revolution and the start of the Constitutional Convention. Then, begin a simple discussion following these questions:
    • Why did the Americans feel that a new constitution was needed? What events helped promote that decision?
    • What did various people want out of a government?
    • If you were alive in this time, what would be your biggest desires in a government, as well as your biggest fears about government?
  • Begin the video lesson The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise. Pause the video at 3:08 and discuss this information as a class.
    • What were some of the main concerns that different people had going into the Constitutional Convention? In what ways were their concerns different? In what ways were their concerns similar?

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