Articles of Confederation


Our Articles of Confederation lesson plan teaches students about the Articles of Confederation, including what they were, why they were important to the Constitution and the founding of the United States, and who was involved in writing them. Students also learn about some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to teach the U.S. Constitution immediately after this lesson and have your students compare and contrast the two documents.

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What our Articles of Confederation lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Articles of Confederation identifies the Articles of Confederation and outlines some of its strengths and weaknesses. This interactive lesson also introduces and differentiates the U.S. Constitution. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify the Articles of Confederation and some of its strengths and weaknesses. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional addition to the lesson is to teach the U.S. Constitution immediately after this lesson and have your students compare and contrast the two documents. You can let students work with a partner to complete the practice worksheet. You could also have your students research the signers of the Articles or have them research another country’s constitution and compare and contrast it with the Articles.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation lesson plan includes two pages of content. The lesson begins by stating that before the Constitution of the United States, we had the Articles of Confederation. These articles set the law of the land from March 1, 1781 to March 4, 1789. 13 delegates who served in Congress, one from each state, wrote the articles. They used this document as the first constitution and replaced it in 1789, after the Revolutionary War. Many of the same people wrote both documents, but they made many changes to the U.S. Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation was five pages long and acted as an agreement between the states and the government. It outlined how the government would function. There were 13 articles that the 13 original states agreed upon.

The Articles

The lesson then summarizes each of the articles. Article I gave the states the name the United States of America. Article II gave freedom to the states and independence from the national government in non-governmental matters.

Next, Article III allowed states to come together for defense, liberty, and cooperation. Article IV allowed citizens the freedom of movement between states and stated that each state would respect each other’s laws. Article V created the congress and permitted representatives from each state.

The next article, Article VI, restricted states from signing treaties to start a war without permission. Article VII allowed states to appoint officers when they needed an army for self defense. Article VIII stated that states were responsible for paying money to a national treasury for government expenses and stated that each state would owe their amount based on their size.

Next, Article IX summarized the powers that the government had over the states, including controlling the value of money used between states. Article X set up the rules for a committee to work when Congress was not in session. The next article, Article XI, stated that nine out of 13 states had to agree to let a new state join the country. Article XII stated that America would pay all of its debts owed to other countries. Finally, Article XIII made it mandatory for the states to follow the decisions of Congress and states that the country would last forever. It also stated that any changes to the articles would require approval by Congress and all of the states.

The articles brought the states together, but it also gave them more power than the national government. There was no executive branch of the government, and only a small judicial branch. People worried that their rights wouldn’t be respected without a strong national government. This was the primary reason why they replaced the Articles of Confederation with the U.S. Constitution, which included additional government oversight and gave more rights to the citizens.


The Articles of Confederation lesson plan includes one worksheet: a practice worksheet. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out the worksheet.


For the practice worksheet, students will read 13 statements, scenarios, or situations and determine which article number each refers to. They will also fill in the blanks in a paragraph about the Articles of Confederation.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, CVCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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    Articles of confederation

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