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The Factional Fued:

Grades 6-8 Civics 2

The Factional Feud
Fran O'Malley
The Democracy Project



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.

Materials Needed:

  • Transparencies of Anti-Federalist positions (included below).
  • 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 a captain.

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.

Debriefing Questions

  • 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?


Source and Suggested Reading

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. Madison, Wisconsin.

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University of Delaware Web PageSend comments to Fran O'Malley at fomalley@udel.edu.
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