Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Sonia Sotomayor, and addresses the standard of examining the contributions of people of Hispanic heritage to American society. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of creative projects.


Display a photo of Sonia Sotomayor wearing her justice robe and collar, possibly with the rest of the Supreme Court justices. Ask:

  • Who is this? (If students say she’s a judge, probe by asking what kind of judge or what court she sits on).
  • What does it mean to be a Supreme Court judge?
  • What characteristics do you think it takes to be a judge?


  • Read aloud the description below the Movie player.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding.
  • Group students and have them read one of the three Related Readings, then share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY
Students synthesize their ideas and express them through one or more of the following creative projects. They can work individually or collaborate. 

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a biopic about Justice Sotomayor’s life. Begin with her childhood, describing how her experiences affected her career and aspirations.
  • Make-a-Map: Create a timeline of events and accomplishments in Sotomayor’s life, including all of her “firsts” and identifying details about each. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a true or false sorting game about Sonia Sotomayor. Choose facts from the movie, then make up some untruths. Challenge classmates to play.


  • Reflect: After sharing creative projects with each other, students reflect on what they’ve learned about Sonia Sotomayor. Prompt them by asking questions such as:  
    • How does Justice Sotomayor differ from other Supreme Court justices?
    • What makes Sonia Sotomayor an effective Supreme Court justice?
    • Why did some members of Congress call Sotomayor racist during her confirmation?
    • Why is it important to have justices of different backgrounds and with different perspectives on the Supreme Court?
  • Assess: Wrap up the lesson with a Sonia Sotomayor Quiz.


Play these iCivics games on BrainPOP’s game portal, GameUp, to learn more about U.S. court systems:
Argument Wars
Court Quest
Do I Have a Right?

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments