Articles of Confederation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Use a lesson plan to teach your students about the Articles of Confederation. A group activity challenges students to demonstrate what they've learned, then continue the learning experience with additional activities and lessons.

Learning Objectives:

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

  • describe the Articles of Confederation
  • interpret the meaning of each of the Articles of Confederation
  • analyze weaknesses with the Articles of Confederation


1 to 1.5 hours


  • Photocopies of the transcript of the Articles of Confederation

Curriculum Standards


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


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.



  • Divide students into 13 small groups and pass out a photocopy of the Articles of Confederation to each group.
  • Review the Articles of Confederation introduction as a class, perhaps having students take turns reading a sentence or two aloud.
  • Next, assign each group one of the Articles of Confederation to summarize. Each group should rephrase their article in simple language. The purpose of this task is for students to interpret the meaning of their assigned Article of Confederation and then to share their interpretations with the class.
  • Moving in order from Article I through Article XIII, have students summarize their Article for the class as you write each group's interpretation on the board. Ask:
    • What is a potential problem with the central government that the Articles of Confederation aimed to create? Write these on the board as well.

Return to Lesson

  • Play the video lesson again, pausing this time at 3:00.
  • Keeping the information provided in the video lesson in mind, revisit the rephrased Articles of Confederation written on the board. Discuss:
    • Did the students accurately interpret the meaning of the Articles of Confederation? If not, what did they miss?
    • Return to the question regarding the potential problem with the central government that the Articles of Confederation aimed to create. Were students on target with those? Why or why not?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson.
  • Finally, have the groups imagine that they are the initial authors of the Articles of Confederation. How would they have written each article to prevent the problems that occurred? When each group has revised their Article, have the groups work together to create one cohesive rewrite. Discuss their changes and reasoning as a class.

Discussion Questions

  • How different might our government be today off the Articles of Confederation had stuck?
  • How did the Articles of Confederation pave the way for the Constitution and Bill of Rights?


  • Have students select one of the signors of the Articles of Confederation to research and report on.
  • Ask students to investigate the political climate during the period of the creation of the Article of Confederation. How did these factors come into play with the penning of the document?

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