Looking for some quick ideas for Constitution Day lesson ideas that will keep students engaged? We’ve got you covered with a teacher-created list of age-appropriate books, videos, and activities for upper elementary!
We, the elementary teachers of schools across the United States, will spend time on Constitution Day to educate our students about the goals of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the critical role the Constitution has played in the development of our country.
The beginning of the school year is a busy time for teachers. Among the hustle and bustle of getting together and prepping resources, home visits, getting to know students both personally and academically, planning that big last hurrah for Labor Day weekend, not to mention setting up and decorating your classroom and taking a little ‘me’ time to relax, you suddenly remember that you need a plan for Constitution Day.
Constitution Day is on September 17, just a few short weeks after most of us have started the school year, so you don’t have time trying to come up with new ideas for this national holiday.
As Constitution day nears, don’t worry! We have some tried and true resources: activities, books, and videos that will help you celebrate Constitution Day with very little fuss.
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Constitution Day Lesson Ideas
Let’s begin by talking about three books that you could use in your class this year. Some of these will only take a single class period to read, but there are some on this list that may require you to put in a couple days or spread the content out over a month. We are confident that no matter which one you choose, students will learn a lot.
We the Kids, by David Catrow
This is my personal favorite for Constitution Day. It’s a quick, easy read…basically the words to the Preamble, accompanied by funny pictures to look at and discuss. It has a great introduction and a quick summary with the meaning of the words in the Preamble. (If you are looking for an activity to go with it, this one pairs nicely with my Preamble Stretch Book.)
Constitution Q & A (175+ Fascinating Facts for Kids), by Elizabeth Raum
This one is brand new, and it looks great. The release date is August 17, 2021, and it can be pre-ordered so you have it in time for Constitution Day. The book is geared towards kids ages 8-12 with fun facts. We all know that kids love fun facts! Since there are over 175 fun facts in this book, it may be one that you spread over the month or even the whole school year. Read just one or two facts a day, or post them in a special spot on a bulletin board or on the door to the classroom. This is a great way to infuse Constitutional knowledge throughout the year in a simple, no-fuss way.
What Is the Constitution?, by Patricia Brennan Demuth
This next one is also going to take a couple days to get through, but it is a good age-appropriate option for teachers in upper elementary. The age range suggestion for this text is 8 to 12 year-olds. Rather than being an overview of a particular part of the Constitution, this book is a behind-the-scenes look that aims to discuss some of the issues over which the Founding Fathers struggled the most. It would take several days to read aloud, but could be started on Constitution Day.
Depending on what you have planned for your class, a video may be a good option for your class on Constitution Day. I have used both of these on Constitution Day in the past. I love them because they are short..easy to fit in, and a nice way to kick off a lesson.
These videos could easily supplement one of the other activities or books on this list, or be a short discussion activity on its own.
#3| Activity: Make a Class Constitution
Modeling your class after the process introduced by the Founding Fathers during the Constitutional Convention, create a class constitution. Try to follow the methods and rules of the original Constitution writing process. Let students discuss the process while creating a document that could affect them over the course of the school year.
#4| Activity: Play Constitution Checkers
Using dollar store checker boards or by printing the boards provided, play a game of Constitutional Checkers with students to review the important moments that took place during the writing of the Constitution. This resource comes with a reading passage about the Constitution that students can read before playing a game of checkers that challenges them to recall some of the important facts while they play. Constitution Checkers can be a stand-alone activity, or you can pair it up with one of the books or videos listed above!
#5| Crafty Activity: Make a Preamble Stretch Book
At the upper elementary level, the preamble is often the focus of discussion on Constitution Day, and this Preamble Stretch Book may be just the kind of resource you need to make it extra fun. Stretch books are truly one of my favorite things because they are almost mysterious by nature (they look like one thing, but are truly another). The Preamble Stretch Book provides space for students to dissect the Preamble of the Constitution line by line with space to restate each section in modern terms. For more about this resource, watch this YouTube Video I made about the Preamble Stretch Book. It’s old, but it will tell you everything you need to know about this fun activity.
Note: Although it isn’t used as widely at the elementary level, I do also provide a Bill of Right Stretch Book for older grades to use in combination with the Preamble Stretch Book.
Hopefully this little list of books, videos, and Constitution Day activities will be exactly what you need to plan for Constitution Day among all the other tasks you need to get your school year started successfully.
If you are scrambling to put together some resources and lesson ideas for the beginning of the year, check out some of these other back-to-school posts for some inspiration!
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- First Day Tried & True Linky Party!