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Five Constitution Day Activities for the Classroom

Constitution Day is coming up, and this September 17, the nation will be celebrating the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. In the classroom, it is important at any age to celebrate and learn about the day that history was changed. 

Resources like the Constitution Center, the National Archives, and more offer plenty of activities, games, videos, lesson plans, and more that serve to help educators teach their students about Constitution Day. Here are five Constitution Day activities for the classroom. 

  1. Watch an educational video: Each year, the Constitution Center provides videos based on information about the national holiday. In 2010, the short instructional video was about the judicial branch, and in 2011, the video was about the freedom of expression. In 2012, the video looked at what it takes to be the president, and last year, the video looked at a round up of historical facts, and the legislative branch. With these videos, students can travel through American history, watch the video, and meet famous representatives and officials of the country. The site also offers a student guide, where they can write down facts they learn from the video, and answer questions off of a worksheet. 
  2. Lesson Plan: To Sign or Not to Sign: With this lesson plan provided by the Constitution Center, students will start by responding to a provocative statement posted in the room, and they will then watch a video giving a brief explanation of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Then, the teacher will guide students through a read-aloud play and hear about two Constitutional Convention delegates who disagreed about ratifying the Constitution. The class can then discuss the ratification process, the issues, and decide themselves whether or not they want to sign. 
  3. Bill of Rights Bingo: Give students the opportunity to learn about the Bill of Rights and have fun at the same time. During a lesson or activity on the Bill of Rights, such as reading the document out loud, have students listen for important terms, such as, "fair trial", "freedom", "due process", or "petition", and mark them on the board. The Constitution Center provides an already completed board, as well as a blank board teachers can fill on their own. 
  4. On the holiday, join with the class in creating their own Class Constitution, or Bill of Rights. Make the classroom a congress-like setting, and set up, discuss, and ratify your own class constitution for the rest of the school year. This way, students will get a front row seat and learn just how complicated, and monumental it was when a group of 39 men changed the course of history. 
  5. The Constitution Game: Provided by the National Archives, invite the class to play The Constitution Game, which aims to teach and describe how the members of the Constitutional Convention might have felt as they gathered to write and sign the United States Constitution. The game consists of dividing the class into groups of three or four and giving each group of students rhymed instructions. The rhymed instructions give students the option to use the materials to create and play their own game. At the end, have a representative from each group tell the class how they played their game. This will teach the students about how the 12 different states felt about each having a different strategy in writing the Constitution. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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