This lesson uses the format of the popular game show "The
Family Feud" to examine the Federalist/Antifederalist
debates that preceded the ratification of the United States
Constitution and to reinforce and assess students' understanding
of the contents of the Federalist Papers.
Targeted Audience: Grades 6-8
Time to Complete: 40-50 minutes.
Benchmark Addressed: Civics 2 [Politics}
- Understand the principles and content of major American
state papers such as
the Federalist Papers.
- Transparencies of Anti-Federalist positions (included
- Chalkboard eraser.
1. Arrange the room so that two rows of seats face each other
in the center of the room. Place a small table or stand at
the head of the two rows with an chalkboard eraser placed
on the table.
2. Divide the class up into 2-4 equally sized "factions."
You may want to assign them names like "Federalists,"
"Antifederalists," and "Publius" etc.
Have two "faction families" sit in the two rows
described in Step 1. Ask each "family" to select
3. Place Transparency 1 on an overhead projector making sure
that only the prompt Top 5 Reasons Why Anti-Federalists Opposed
the Constitution's Plan for a Stronger National Government
is visible to the students.
4. Describe the rules of the game to the class. Tell the
students that there will be several rounds in this tournament.
During each round a transparency will be projected in the
front of the room. That transparency will contain a prompt.
To begin the round the two captains will stand on opposite
sides of the table. Once the prompt is revealed, the captain
who believes he or she can correctly state a reason requested
in the prompt should grab the eraser. The first person to
grab the eraser gets the first opportunity to try and guess
the top reason. If he or she identifies the top reason correctly,
his or her team may continue attempting to exhaust all of
the reasons. Each reason is assigned a point value that decreases
as one moves from "top" answer to "least frequently"
cited reason. If the captain who grabbed the eraser is unable
to identify correctly one of the responses that appears on
the overhead , or if he or she correctly identifies a response
that is not the "top" response, the captain of the
other team will be given a chance to steal the category by
correctly identifying a reason that is higher than that which
was identified by the first captain. Whichever captain wins
the opening response round, wins the right for his or her
team to try to identify correctly all of the responses that
appear under the prompt. That team is given three passes for
incorrect responses before the category is transferred to
the other "family." If the "faction" that
won first crack at exhausting the correct responses to the
prompt is unable to exhaust all of the correct responses,
the category shifts to the second "faction" and
all they have to do is identify one correct response that
the first "faction" was unable to identify in order
to "steal" the points for that round. If the first
"faction" exhausts all correct responses, or if
the second faction is unable to "steal" the category
by correctly identifying one of the remaining responses, the
first faction is awarded all of the points assigned to their
correct responses. If there are only two "factions"
competing in the tournament, move to Round 2, using Transparency
2 as the next category. If there are more than two "factions"
competing in the game, the losing "faction" goes
back into the audience and is replaced by another "faction."
5. Once all of the prompts have been used the tournament
is over. Talley the scores for each "faction" and
award bonus points or other rewards to the winning "faction."
You may want to offer a two-level of response option to the
students that mirrors some of the DSTP prompts. After students
have identified a reason why the Antifederalists opposed the
Constitution in its original form you can invite each respondent
to suggest a plausible Federalist response for extra points.
- What were the strongest arguments used by the Antifederalists
in their campaign against the ratification of the Constitution?
- Were the criticisms levied by the Antifederalists legitimate?
- How might the Federalists have responded to the arguments
raised by the Antifederalists?
Kaminski, John P. and Leffler, Richard editors. (1989). Federalists
and Antifederalists: Debate Over Ratification of the Constitution.
Constitutional Heritage Series, Vol. 1. Madison House Publishers.