Teaching Constitution day to kids is not only an important activity but also a federal requirement. All schools that receive federal funds are required to teach students something about the Constitution on the 17th of September. As a teacher, you’ll likely even receive an email notification from the school to remind you to wrap up a lesson plan.
However, teaching the Constitution to kids is not an easy task. Up until 12 years old, kids use concrete reasoning when thinking about the world, while the Constitution can be a very abstract concept hard to explain in simple terms. So, how to bridge this cognitive gap and make young kids fully understand the Constitution?
To help you out, we created this practical guide with seven unique Constitution Day activities and resources for kids that you can easily implement in your next lesson.
How to Teach Constitution Day to Kids?
Before we dive into the Constitution Day activities and resources, let’s examine some specific techniques that will help kindergarten and elementary school kids understand abstract ideas.
After all, the question of whether children (less than 11/12 years old) are developmentally able to grasp abstract concepts like freedom, morality, and democracy is a real concern, and so is the question of whether you, as a teacher, can make that process easier for them.
Teachers and homeschool tutors can help students learn abstract concepts like the Constitution with the help of mental hooks and age-appropriate terminology. Let’s explain this.
The mental hook is a learning technique that allows the kids to associate new abstract ideas with prior concrete knowledge. For example, explaining “God” as a father that protects us. The term father is a hook that allows the teacher to introduce the new, more abstract word “God”.
This way, you can use prior knowledge to explain the Constitution. For example: “On September 17, 1787, some very important people wrote a set of rules for everyone in the country to follow.” If you have already asked your students to follow certain classroom rules and explained why they are important, then this is more than enough to be a concrete example and serve as a mental hook for understanding what exactly a Constitution is in its most basic form.
You can even use the “Classroom Constitution” activity, which we describe below, to further strengthen this association, or choose another one from our extensive Constitution Day activities list.
7 Great Activities for Teaching Constitution Day to Kids
Teaching about the Constitution has never been easier thanks to our Constitution Day teaching resources. Here’s everything you can use to plan a fun and memorable lesson.
- Watch Educational Videos
Explaining the Constitution is one thing, but giving children the opportunity to learn through a visual medium will help them process the information more effectively.
For kindergarten and elementary school kids, you can use the historical animated series Liberty’s Kids. In the 140th episode, titled “We The People”, the series shows how America’s leaders wrote the constitution.
For upper-middle school and high school students, Hillsdale College has created a wonderful Constitution 101 series that teaches about the meaning of the Constitution and the principles of the American government.
- Separate & Analyze the Constitution
The best way to go a little deeper into the concept of the constitution and have a better understanding of it is to break it down into separate sections and then analyze only one section. This can also prevent kids from getting overwhelmed.
For example, the first sentence of the Constitution is called the preamble, which explains the purpose of the document and tells us about the intentions of the Framers who created it. You can discuss how students interpret the preamble and compare it with the law.
- Use Interactive Worksheets
After explaining to kids what the Constitution is, you can give them interactive worksheets to work on, together or in small groups. This will help you tie in theoretical knowledge with practical examples.
With our Acts, Constitution, & Bills Curriculum Facts & Worksheets bundle, students will be able to work on crosswords and true-or-false quizzes, as well as make a timeline of the events described. Alternatively, you can download and work through the US Constitution worksheet bundle.
You can also use the Constitution Day Facts & Worksheet bubble where students can learn the facts and then compare constitutions, answer a fact or fiction quiz, take a citizenship test, describe their American hero, and so much more.
- Organize a Fishbowl Discussion
Fishbowl discussions are a great way to encourage critical thinking and help children understand the concept better by listening to their classmates explaining their way of thinking about the matter.
This is a very useful method that’s incredibly easy to organize. You can simply let children read part of the Constitution and discuss how they believe it impacts our society today. You can also let them discuss questions like:
- What would happen if we all used different kinds of money in each state? How would our life be different?
- What would happen if there was no president?
- Discuss Books/Articles
Giving students reading materials about the Constitution and analyzing them through discussion is a great activity for upper-middle and high school students.
On the Library of Congress website, you can find several virtual copies of original sources regarding the Constitution, including historical maps, news articles, and even the diaries of George Washington. You can give these documents as a reading assignment to your students and later analyze them.
Also, here’s a list of children’s books about the Constitution, you can use:
- We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States
- A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution
- What Is the Constitution? (What Was?)
- Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution
- Write a Classroom Constitution
Chances are you’ve already set up ground rules on how students should behave in the classroom. This is a chance to use that example from their daily life and bring it closer to what a Constitution actually is. After writing a classroom constitution, all of the children will be able to grasp the abstract idea behind the Constitution of the United States.
How to bring this idea to life?
Simply remind the kids about the rules on which you have agreed upon. Tell them that now they’ll create their own classroom constitution by proposing rules that they think are important and good for them. After writing down the proposed rules, the students will vote on them and if the majority agrees, that rule will be part of the classroom constitution. In the end, give each student to sign that constitution and put it up on the wall.
- Take a Field Trip
Finally, if your school has the resources, or you as a homeschool tutor can afford it, take your students on a field trip. You can visit a history museum, or even a courtroom (more suitable for older students).
This can be a great experience and will definitely help children remember the “boring” facts when they associate them with an intense emotional response, such as excitement from getting their hands on actual historical objects and seeing how the Constitution impacts our daily life.
But, what if you can’t take a field trip?
Well, you can always invite a judge, lawyer, or a historian to speak in front of the class and ask them to bring some historic objects that might be interesting to kids.
What Do You Think?
As you can see, teaching the Constitution to kids can be a challenging task that, hopefully, our article can help you tackle with ease. Instead of simply giving you a bunch of activities, we made sure to include a helpful guide on how to use specific techniques, like mental hooks, to explain Constitution Day in a way that allows kids to mentally grasp the meaning behind it.
We also made sure that all the activities we chose were age-appropriate and fun, so your students will actually be interested in learning more and won’t forget everything when the bell rings. And, for all of your future lessons, regardless of the subject topic, simply browse our worksheet library, as we’re sure we have the right bundle for all of your needs.
Finally, for all the common questions or concerns that teachers, tutors, and parents might have, we regularly share informative articles on our blog, so check us out.
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Teaching Constitution Day to Kids: Activities and Resources: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 17, 2020