Elementary School

Who were the Israelites? Why did the Pilgrims identify with them?

May 12, 2017
The Founding

The Pilgrims Identified with the Israelites

In their voyage to America, the Pilgrims compared themselves to the Israelites in the Old Testament of the Bible.  The Israelites, also known as Hebrews or Jews, were God’s chosen people.  In the book of Exodus, they escaped from bondage in Egypt with God’s help, wandered in the desert wilderness, renewed their covenant with God at Mount Sinai, and claimed the Promised Land of Canaan.  In his journal, The History of Plymouth Settlement, Pilgrim leader William Bradford compares the Pilgrim’s voyage to America with the Israelites’ migration:

Our fathers were Englishmen who came over the great ocean and were ready to perish in the wilderness, but they cried to the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity….

The Jews Gathering the Manna in the Desert by Nicolas Poussin, 1637-1639

Like the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, the Pilgrims had left what they saw as an oppressive, degraded situation in Europe in order to create a new life in America.  They were God’s people, and America was their Promised Land.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2015.   

Activity:  The Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 7: Comparison Between Pilgrims and Israelites in Migration, pp. 69, 322.  MS-HS.  (This activity continues in Unit 3, Part 1, on Puritans.)

Comparison Between Pilgrims and Israelites in Migration… 

To download the unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Who Were the Pilgrims? Why did they come to America?

May 3, 2017
The Founding

The Pilgrims Were Separatist Puritans in England Who Came to America for Religious Freedom

The Reformation of the 1500s had given rise to a devout group of Christians in England in the 1600s who called for reform and purification of the Church of England.  Though the Church of England, which had been under the Roman Catholic Church for centuries, implemented some moderate reforms and became Protestant during the Reformation, some English Protestants did not believe its reforms went far enough.  The “Puritans,” as they were called, wanted to purify the church from within.  They wanted to expel from the church what they saw as heresy and corruption in the church’s doctrine and worship practices.  One remnant of this group believed the church was too corrupt to be restored, and they separated from it altogether.  These “Separatists,” as they were called, refused to conform to the existing church.  The Separatists’ movement was outlawed, so they met secretly in a home in Scrooby, England.  To escape persecution, they moved to Leyden, Holland.  Disillusioned by hardship and the secular society of Holland, they ultimately set sail for America.  They would become known as the Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims’ migration across the Atlantic on the Mayflower vessel in 1620 would prove to be an historic move.

Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert W. Weir, 1843

The Pilgrims’ primary reason for coming to America was religious freedom.  They wanted freedom to believe and worship without harassment or persecution.  They sought freedom in America to set up their own church and community as they believed and chose.  As early French historian Alexis de Tocqueville observes in his well-known 1835 Democracy in America, the Pilgrims sought some “unfrequented part of the world, where they could live according to their own opinions, and worship God in freedom….”  The Pilgrims also hoped, in the process, to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like other Christians, the Pilgrims and Puritans were monotheistic, believing in one God—the God of the Bible.  They identified God as Creator (Genesis 1 and 2, Isaiah 42:5), Provider (Genesis 22, 1 Corinthians 5:7), and Supreme Ruler or Judge of the world (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Psalm 97:1).  They recognized God’s supreme authority or “sovereignty” in the world.  God’s sovereignty means that all human and earthly spheres—including church, civil government, family, and individual—are under God’s rule and are accountable to God.  God is the highest authority on earth among equal men.

The Pilgrims’ and Puritans’ Bible-based view of God’s sovereignty affected their political as well as religious views.  It affected their organization of church and civil government.  It also set an important precedent for the direction of the Puritan colonies in New England and, ultimately, for the founding of the new nation.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2015.

Activity:  The Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 8: Learning More About the Puritans, pp. 69, 318-319.  ES-HS.

To download the whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Women’s History Month – Katherine Lee Bates

March 1, 2017
The Founding

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to share a blog featuring the author of “America the Beautiful” Katherine Lee Bates.

“America the Beautiful” first appeared in print in 1895. Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929) wrote the poem in 1893. She wrote a second version in 1904 and the final version in 1913.

Katherine Lee Bates 1859-1929

Katharine Lee Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts on August 12, 1859. In 1880, she graduated from Wellesley College where she taught from 1886 -1925. She wrote books of poetry and books about her travels around the world. She also enjoyed writing stories for children. Miss Bates loved animals and often had her picture taken with her collie, Hamlet, and her parrot, Polonius. She retired in 1925 and died four years later on March 28, 1929.

In the summer of 1893, Miss Bates was teaching at Colorado College. She joined a group of teachers one afternoon on a trip to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When she reached the top of the mountain, she was inspired by the beautiful view to write the first four verses of her poem. She wrote in her journal:

“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view,  I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

Lesson Plan Ideas:

  • Define: spacious, amber, majesties, grace, brotherhood
  • Who wrote the poem America the Beautiful?
  • Where was the poem first written?
  • What beautiful things are described in the poem?
  • What does “God shed his grace on thee” mean?
  • What does “from sea to shining sea” mean?

Activity: America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty. Unit 10: America the Beautiful. pp. 163-166. ES.

This unit is available to download from the Member Resources at www.americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

The Meaning of the Great Seal of The United States

February 20, 2017
The Founding

The Meaning of the Great Seal of the United States

The Great Seal of the United States is the official emblem and heraldic device of the United States of America.  It was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1782 to represent the nation and to demonstrate to other nations of the world the ideas and values of its Founders and people.  Great Seals have their origins in the royal seals of the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries.

The Great Seal of the United States guarantees the authenticity of official U. S. documents.  It is used 2,000-3,000 times per year to seal documents.  Such documents include treaties, presidential proclamations, appointments of government officials, and presidential communications to heads of foreign nations.  The seal is also printed on the U. S. $1 bill, providing U. S. citizens with a ready reference to the nation’s foundational ideas.  The custody of the Great Seal is assigned to the U. S. Department of State.  The seal can be affixed by an officer of the Secretary of State.

The Great Seal was adopted by the Continental Congress on June 20, 1782.  It was first used officially on September 16, 1782, to guarantee the authenticity of a document that granted full power to General George Washington “to negotiate and sign with the British an agreement for the exchange, subsistence, and better treatment of prisoners of war.”  Thomas Jefferson was the first Secretary of State to have custody of the Great Seal.

The Great Seal has two sides and displays a number of important symbols.  The front (obverse) side of the seal displays the coat of arms of the United States.  The coat of arms is officially used for coins, postage stamps, stationary, publications, flags, military uniforms, public monuments, public buildings, embassies and consulates, passports, and items owned by the U. S. government.

Do you know the meaning behind The Great Seal? This Great Seal file breaks it down for you.

“Symbolically, the Seal reflects the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers attached to the new nation and wished to pass on to their descendants.”

– U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs



Check out Elementary School lesson plans for The Great Seal in America’s Heritage:  An Adventure in Liberty.

This unit is available to download from the Member Resources at www.americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

The Great Seal of the United States – Elementary Lesson Plan

January 20, 2017
The Founding

AHEF_The Great Seal

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the American Patriotic symbols. The Great Seal was produced by the Founders to help unify the nation and demonstrate to the world the qualities of the nation.

The student will be able to identify elements and American patriotic symbols including Great Seal of the United States.

The Latin words on the Great Seal are one of the factors that express our intention as a nation to be one. The nation is composed of people from all over the world and residents of different states, but from these many the one people of the United States are formed.


Sneak peek of one of the activities in the lesson plan.


To see The Great Seal in color, head over to this blog post.

ObverseGreatSeal ReverseGreatSeal

United States Presidents – Elementary Lesson Plans

January 20, 2017
The Founding

United States Presidents – Elementary Lesson Plans

Since the inauguration is today, we thought we’d share some of the lesson plans that focus on presidents.

Prior to the lesson, ask students to talk about the U. S. Presidents with their parents. In class, ask students to name the presidents of the United States that they know. Make a list of the names on the board. Ask students why presidents are important to the history of our nation. Show the students the president cards* and fast facts* and ask them to review information about the presidents.

*download the lesson plan to access the president cards and fast facts.


Here’s a sneak peek of a few of the activities located in The U.S. Presidents Lesson Plan




–Updated Presidential lesson plans will be coming in the future.

To download this whole unit from America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Libertysign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of this resource with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Elementary and Middle Lesson Plans

January 13, 2017
The Founding





Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday. Here are a few classroom ideas.

Elementary  and Middle School Lesson

With MLK Day approaching, take some time to create a calendar for the classroom that honors American heroes.

Several United States holidays celebrate the accomplishments of noted Americans such as George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. Work with a group of students to compile a list of these national holidays. Then use the list to create a calendar or other type of display that shows the dates of the holidays, the name of the person being honored, and a brief statement about the person’s contribution to the freedom and unity of America. Illustrate the calendar and display it in the classroom.

High School Lesson Plan

Read the letter King wrote on April 16, 1963, while he was imprisoned in Birmingham Jail during America’s Civil Rights movement. Paragraphs 11-13 are of particular importance to our exploration of Natural Rights.

  1. Summarize the main points of the letter.
  2. Record references King makes to historical religious and legal thinkers on natural law and natural rights.

Click the button below for links to the letter and more high school lesson ideas.


This unit can be downloaded from the Member Resources at www.americanheritage.org.

Welcome to The Founding!

December 9, 2016
The Founding


Welcome to The Founding! Provided by the American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF), The Founding is a weekly blog that features articles, videos, research, and teaching ideas on America’s philosophical heritage for citizens, teachers, and homeschoolers.  It explores American rights and responsibilities and what it means to be an American, giving special attention to the Bible-based principles that shaped America’s foundations.  Studies confirm that this information is missing in many schools today and that Americans today are deficient in civic knowledge about our nation.

The Founding is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative that seeks to promote the understanding and teaching of America’s founding principles in order to preserve the American idea and to help restore an educated citizenry in our self-governing republic.

America Succeeds by Freedom, Unity, Progress, & Responsibility


We support the ideas of Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility (FUPR).  We believe that without the teaching and learning of these four concepts, America, as we know it, is at risk. For more information on FUPR, see http://americanheritage.org/index.php/en-us/fupr.

This blog is inclusive of individuals of every race and creed and of every religious and non-religious persuasion who respect every American’s natural rights as recognized in the U. S. Declaration of Independence and affirmed by law in the U. S. Constitution.

We invite you to respond to articles, share relevant ideas, draw your own conclusions, and let us know if you find this site useful. We’d love to hear from you.

Teachers and homeschoolers:  Check out our educational activities featured at the bottom of each blog. See below!

Yours Truly,
The Founding Team

P.S. We are excited to provide these resources for you.  Before browsing or posting comments on this site, please review our Terms of Use, Intellectual Property Restrictions, and Code of Conduct.  We ask that visitors do not post comments for marketing or commercial purposes.  Such posts will be removed.

Activity Downloads

Activity: America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty (ES-HS), American Heritage Themes Unit, pp. 21-27. ES-HS.



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