Presidential Powers

Social Studies/Language Arts

Students will be able to describe presidential powers and responsibilities by creating a detailed help-wanted ad for the job of United States President.


Article II, Sections 1 through 4 of the U.S. Constitution include important details related to the U.S. presidency. Section 1 explains who may be elected President, how elections should be carried out and by whom, and what happens if a President cannot serve. Section 1 also details presidential compensation and the oath of office. Section 2 describes such presidential functions as commanding U.S. forces, making treaties and appointments, and granting commissions. Section 3 details the President's rights and duties to inform Congress, convene both Houses, adjourn Congress, receive dignitaries, see that laws are executed, and commission U.S. officers. Section 4 explains impeachment. The 12th Amendment modifies the election process. The 20th and 25th Amendments modify presidential succession.

What You Need

Help with Opening PDFs

What to Do

  1. Ask students to name specific job responsibilities of a United States President. Hold a class discussion outlining basic presidential duties.
  2. Distribute copies of the United States Constitution, Article II, Sections 1 through 4 to students. (See Internet Resources below.) You may want to assign students to small groups and distribute one copy for each group. Then have one student from each group read a section of the document out loud. After students have read the sections, hold a class discussion comparing the job duties that were named at the start of the lesson with what is described in the Constitution.
  3. Explain to students that they will create a help-wanted advertisement for the job of United States President, using details from the Constitution, research materials, and sample help-wanted ads. Provide a copy of the Help Wanted: Commander in Chief worksheet to each student. Have students complete the worksheet.
  4. Provide sample help-wanted ads to students. Then have students use the worksheet and sample ads to write a help-wanted advertisement. (To be eligible to run for President, a person must be at least 35 years old, and be a natural-born United States citizen who has lived in the country for at least 14 years. In 2003, the annual wage offered was $400,000 in 2003. Tangible and intangible benefits include international recognition and prestige, the beautiful and historic White House mansion to live in, around-the-clock household help, a private Boeing 747 and helicopter for official business, use of the famous Camp David retreat in Maryland, and Secret Service protection for 10 years after leaving office.)
  5. Have students share what they have learned with the class and post their ads in the classroom.

Teaching Options

Internet Resources

NARA|The National Archives Experience
This site, provided by the National Archives in Washington, D.C., offers images of the original handwritten U.S. Constitution and its amendments for reading and printing. Also available are typewritten transcripts.

National Constitution Center
The Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers the complete U.S. Constitution with embedded references to related amendments. Also included are all 27 Amendments.

Ben's Guide (Grades 3–5): The President of the United States
The U.S. Government Printing Office offers a student-friendly, yet detailed, summary of U.S. presidential duties.

Ben's Guide (Grades 6–8): The President of the United States
This website provides a summary of presidential duties for middle-grade students.