Free Civics Studies Lesson 5: The Senate

The United States Senate: What it is and what it does.

Read the current chapter online: “The Senate”


Learn more about the Senate from The Book of Knowledge:

The law-making power is in the hands of Congress, which is made up of two bodies, called houses. In one, the Senate, each state, large or small, has two members. A senator is elected by the people of his state, represents the whole state and serves for six years. However, the terms of all the members of the Senate do not run together; one-third are elected every two years. A senator must live in the state he represents, must be at least thirty years old, and, if he was born outside of the United States, must have been a citizen nine years….

The vice-president of the United States is the president of the Senate. If there is not a vice-president, which happens when a president dies and the vice-president becomes president, the Senate elects a temporary president.

The Senate has some powers that the House has not. It shares with the president of the United States the power to make treaties or other agreements with foreign countries; it must approve of the persons the president appoints to high office. If a president or other high officer of the government is charged with a crime, the Senate sits as a court to try him. This is called impeachment.

“How the United States is Governed” from The Book of Knowledge

Additional Resources

The History of the U.S. Capitol
Timeline of construction and modifications. (You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

US Capitol Building
History from the National Park Service.

About the U.S. Capitol Building
From the Architect of the Capitol.

Capitol Dome
The history and architecture.

Capitol Rotunda
From the Architect of the Capitol.

Presidential Inaugurations and The United States Capitol
History with pictures.

Old Senate Chamber
From the Architect of the Capitol.

Senate Chamber
Current Senate Chamber from the Architect of the Capitol.

Proportional Representation
Explanation from the United States House of Representatives.

The United States Capitol and Congress
Guide geared toward students.

The Vice President’s Room
His office inside the Capitol building outside the Senate Chamber.

Vice Presidential Bust Collection
Brochure explaining the role of the President of the Senate that includes a list of Vice Presidents.


Excellent interactive timeline.

The Architect’s Virtual Capitol
Virtual tour of the Capitol Building.

A Capitol Adventure
Activity book download.

Capitol Documentary
Excellent documentary for older students from C-Span on the Senate Chamber.

Units & Lesson Plans

The House of Representatives and the Senate: What’s the Difference
Excellent lesson from the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center.

The Question of Representation
Lesson plan from the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Notebooking Pages & Printables

The Capitol
Map for notebook.

Constitutional Convention of 1787 Plans on Representation
Wonderful chart outlining the differences that led to The Great Compromise.

The Senate Notebooking Pages
Our free and simple notebooking pages for copywork, narrations, dictations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series:
Free Civics Studies
Free Civics Studies: The Century Book for Young Americans

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