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Activity Overview

In this activity, students will use a spider map to detail the major components of the Declaration of Independence. By detailing the 5 Ws, students will be able to identify and explain who wrote it, why, where, and when it was written, and what the document was saying. The spider map will allow students to gain a holistic perspective of the document itself, almost like a Declaration of Independence summary. Students should be able to also connect major thematic ideas of revolution, rights, and freedoms.

Students will answer the following questions in their spider map:

  • WHO Wrote the Declaration of Independence?
  • WHAT did the Declaration of Independence Say?
  • WHERE was the Declaration of Independence Written?
  • WHEN was the Declaration of Independence Written?
  • WHY was the Declaration of Independence Written?

Extended Activity

Have students analyze and make a spider map on France’s Declarations of the Rights of Man, from 1789. Both declarations come within decades of each other, as France’s revolution and ideas are very much influenced by America’s. Have students identify similarities and differences.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a 5W analysis of the Declaration of Independence: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title box for each cell, type Who, What, When, Where and Why.
  3. In the descriptions, answer the question.
  4. Create an image for each cell with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/1] Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/2] 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.


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