Salem Witch Trials

Available in Spanish

Pictured: Judge Jesus Rodriguez leads a class at Hooker Oak Elementary School in Butte County.

Grade Level: Grades 5-12

Time: One class period (approx. 50 minutes)

Introduction:

In this lesson, students learn about the delivery of justice in 1692. Through a reenactment, they learn about fair and equal access and the role of a jury.

For the Salem Witch Trials, the lesson asks students to read a script. With enough planning in advance, students assigned a role often like to dress up for the visit! Read article

Source: Salem Witch Trial Mock Trial program, developed by San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joan Weber’s Salem Witch Trial Mock Trial program.

Objectives:

1. Students will identify and explain the three branches of government, with a focus on the judicial branch.

2. Students will compare and contrast a historic court case with and without the Bill of Rights.

3. Students will apply and analyze the Bill of Rights, with a focus on Amendments 6 and 7.

Presentation & Handouts:


  1. Handouts:

Handout: 3 Branches of Government

Handout: Scripts (there are two scripts to choose from, one is longer than the other)

"Acting roles" may be assigned by the teacher in advance. Also available in Spanish

Handout: Bill of Rights

Additional Information:

The following resources may help prepare the class in advance of the visit.

Upper Grades (8-12)

  • Primary Sources: Library of Congress provide context around the trials, including details about life during colonial times, historian perspective, and details about those accused and brought to trial.


Optional Reading Assignment(s) Prior to the Visit:


Background Videos: Teachers may share these videos with their students in preparation for the lesson.