Free Civics Studies Lesson 6: The House of Representatives

A bird’s-eye view of the House of Representatives: What the House really is.

Read the current chapter online: “The House of Representatives.”


The House of Representatives is made up of members elected from the states according to the population. Congress determines how many representatives there shall be in the House and then divides them among the states according to population. However, every state is entitled to at least one representative. The legislature of a state usually divides the state into as many districts (called congressional districts) as it has representatives, and each representative usually represents such a district. Each member is elected by the people of his district for a term of two years. A representative must live in the state he represents, but not necessarily the district, and must be at least twenty-five years old. If he was not born in the United States, he must have been a citizen at least seven years. Sometimes representatives are called congressmen, although, of course, both senators and representatives are really entitled to be called congressmen….

The House of Representatives chooses its president, who is called the Speaker, though he does almost no speaking….

No law can be made unless both houses approve, but every measure which has to do with taxation must be passed by the House of Representatives first, and then sent to the Senate. This is because the writers of the Constitution believed that the representatives were closer to the people than the senators and could more truly understand the people’s needs and wishes in money matters.

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

Additional Resources

I’m Just a Bill
Schoolhouse Rock video on how a bill becomes law. (You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

The National Statuary Hall Collection
Each statue and who the person was.

The U. S. House of Representatives
Brief rundown on the facts.

The Sergeant at Arms
Facts including the duties of the Sergeant at Arms.

Mace of the U. S. House of Representatives
More info on this very odd symbol of authority!

Speakers of the House
Duties and responsibilities.

List of Speakers of the House of Representatives
Click through for portrait and bio.

Directory of Representatives
Find your representative.

Determining Apportionment
How the process has worked through history.


Old Hall of the House of Representatives
C-Span video showing digital reconstruction of what it looked like prior to the burning by the British in 1814.

Design a Statue
Activity from the U. S. Capitol Visitor Center.

Congress by the Numbers
Activity sheet from U. S. Capitol Visitor Center.

How Your State Gets Its Seats
Activity sheet for older students on apportionment.

House Office Buildings
Tours and history from the Architect of the Capitol.

Capitol Documentary on the House Chamber
From C-Span.

How a Bill Becomes Law
Put the steps in the correct order.

Units & Lesson Plans

Teacher Lesson Plan: Statues from the National Statuary Hall Collection
Lesson plan from the U. S. Capitol Visitor Center where the student researches one of the individuals and writes a persuasive essay. Can be adapted to any student’s level.

Congressional Biography
Another lesson plan from the U. S. Capitol Visitor Center where the student researches a member of Congress and writes a biography or character study.

Notebooking Pages & Printables

The House of Representatives 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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