Ohio State nav bar

Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence: A Comparison and Contrast

Lesson Plan

Created by John Tisher


Thomas Paine

(Thomas Paine)


Core Theme: 

The pamphlet “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine and the Declaration of Independence both addressed the United States' desire of independence from England. There exist commonalities and differences between these documents. Students should be able to differentiate between said similarities and differences. 

Grade Level: 


Estimated Duration of Lesson: 

Two Days

State Standards:   

Standard:  History. Topic:  New Nation.  Content Standard:  National Independence...

Primary Sources Used:


Summary of Lesson:

The essay “Common Sense” written by Thomas Paine in 1776, and the "Declaration of Independence" were both documents written to address our Colonial disputes with England.  Students will read both primary source documents and evaluate by comparison and contrast.

Instructional Steps:

Using internet access or copies of the documents, students will read both documents.  Students will then answer a series of questions of each document, found on the related  .
Students will then complete the related Venn Diagram (found in worksheet download) to graphically show items common to both documents, and items different from each other. 


Using the worksheet answers and the Venn Diagram, students could write a two paragraph paper that contrasts and compares these two documents.

Post Assessment:

Grade students on their work.