In order to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the signing of our nation’s first Constitution, most public schools need to include the Constitution in elementary education. To support this cause, we have compiled a list of resources for you to use to find activities from videos, essays, games, and reading materials to select from. It does not matter if your children are just learning about the Constitution or if they are already familiar with it. The important thing is that they know the importance of this document. In this way, they can recognize and appreciate its presence as they grow older.
Constitution Day Activities for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students
No time this year to put together lessons or classroom activities for Constitution Day? We’ve got you covered! Here are six activities that can be adapted for a range of grade levels.
One of the easiest Constitution Day activities to plan is a trip to the library. Find a reference book that serves as both a general encyclopedia and a handy dandy dictionary. This will serve as a great tool to help students learn about the Constitution, its meaning, and how it came to be. After the general reference section, go over to the next section of the book for a specific topic such as “Informative Notes on Constitution Day,” “Tweets on Constitution Day,” and “Background on Constitution Day.” These particular lesson plans will give kids a little more information about the day and will give them a chance to reflect on their knowledge of the document.
Celebrate Your Rights (Poetry/Song Writing; Grades K–12)
Try going old-school to teach kids about the Constitution. Thanks to the catchy lyrics of this Schoolhouse Rock song, students will be able to recite the 52-word preamble in no time. Challenge them to write a poem or song about another part of the Constitution, such as the Bill of Rights. They might also choose to focus on a particular amendment, like the 13th amendment, which ended slavery in 1865, or the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.
Another great way to engage in Constitution Day activities is through debates, discussions, or quizzes. This is a great way to introduce learning about the Constitution in an interactive way. Have children sit in groups and assign someone (that is not the teacher) to be the group’s champion, while the others try to answer the questions posed to them. As long as the question covers the Constitution, the student is considered to have answered it properly. Of course, there are many other Constitution Day activities that can be taught throughout the school year to get kids involved and excited about learning.
A Classroom Bill of Rights (Persuasive Writing; K–12)
Tell students that the writers of the Constitution knew the document would have to change with the times. So far, there have been 27 amendments to the Constitution. The first 10 are called the Bill of Rights. These include freedom of speech, religion, the press, and the right to assemble. Have students watch this video from the National Constitution Center to learn about the creation and ratification of the Bill of Rights. Short on time? Here’s a three-minute video explainer.
Next, challenge students to write a Bill of Rights for your classroom. The document should include 10 of the rights and freedoms they expect in the classroom, whether that’s in person or online. Start with a whole-class brainstorm of amendments. Provide students with an example or two to ensure they get the idea:
- Students have the right to express their opinions, as long as they do so respectfully.
- Students have the right to a half hour of free time every day, as long as they follow rules.
Write up student ideas in a word document, revising it until three-fourths of the class has ratified it. Once your classroom Bill of Rights is finalized, share it with students so they can each sign it.
A great way to begin Constitution Day activities in the classroom is through a lesson about the Framers. The teacher should begin by having the students read some of the letters written by them and then explain what they mean. It is important to not only include what they said, but also to draw from their examples how they came to the conclusions they put forth. After this quick explanation, the teacher can then move to other Constitution Day activities such as debates about the 19th Amendment and the Bill of Rights.
Constitutional Convention Up–Close (Art Analysis; K–12)
Another good way to get kids involved in lessons about the Constitution is to have them write out their own comment on a letter or article that they read during the week. This can be a simple matter of copy and pasting what they read into a piece of paper or using Microsoft Word. Then, the teacher can compare what they have written to the Constitution itself. Many teachers find that this is an excellent way to teach children about the importance of the Constitution.
Invite students to describe what they see:
- What do you notice about the people in the painting?
- What are the people in the painting doing?
- Where is George Washington? Why do you think the painter put him there?
- Do you think the people in the painting reflect the people who live in the United States today? Explain.
- Tell students the Constitutional Convention brought together 55 men to represent their states in the creation of our government. If this convention were held today, who would you like to see represented? Explain.
One of the best ways to engage in Constitution Day activities for kids is to have lesson plans involving the document itself. Students can work together to create their own hypothesis about the framers’ thoughts about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution itself. Teachers can then choose from their lesson plans a couple of different ways to present these ideas to their students. Some teachers opt to just have the students write down their hypothesis in the margins of their papers or on a separate sheet of paper while others will require them to elaborate on their theory in a topical manner. Regardless of how the teacher presents their students’ hypothesis, it is important that they provide enough material for them to explore the topic so that the students will feel as if they have gotten some information from their assignment.