Introduction

Each year on September 17, Constitution Day is celebrated in the United States to commemorate the signing of the Constitution which occurred in 1787. The Constitution is one of the most important historical documents, if not the most important document, in American history, as it laid the foundation for the democratic country that we live in today. By learning about Constitution Day, students will gain a greater understanding of which rights the Constitution provides to American citizens and the system of checks and balances that it puts in place to prevent one branch of government from becoming too powerful. 

Resources

Though this important day is often overlooked, there are many resources online for teaching about Constitution Day. The lesson plans, articles, and informational sites below will help you to put together a lesson for your classroom.

Lesson Plans

  1. Academy 4SC: Find videos related to Constitution Day at Academy 4SC, like The Federalist Papers: In Defense of the Constitution, Amending the Constitution: Get With the Times, The Role of the Federal Reserve: What is the Fed?, and Anti-Federalist vs. Federalist: The Debate Over the Constitution, among others. Teachers have access to resources like worksheets, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more included in each topic’s lesson plan. Explore Academy 4SC’s full library of applicable content under the tag Constitution Day.
  2. Leaders 4SC Forces: Leaders 4SC provides a variety of Task Forces that provoke students to think critically about key issues as they roleplay as decision-makers and brainstorm well-detailed solution. Each Task Force comes with step-by-step instructions, Google slide templates to be used with virtual breakout rooms, and topic-specific questions to get students started. The activities can be completed either individually or as part of a group. A fun Task Force is Rank The Rights.
  3. nea – Constitution Day: nea, the National Education Association, has put together three different pages of resources for educators teaching students in grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The lessons, activities, and additional resources will help students to “understand the men and the ideas that created the Constitution of the United States.” This site provides many creative ways for educators to learn about the Constitution and its history, including performing a Constitution Day rap, doing crossword puzzles, and watching a DVD history of the U.S. Constitution.
  4. National Constitution Center – Constitution Day: The National Constitution Center provides a multitude of various resources for teaching about Constitution Day, including a list of lesson plans and activities, a Constitution Day Classroom Celebration Kit, and other resources for the classroom, including video lessons. For educators who want their students to learn about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the First, Second, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments, and the Founding Fathers, this resource will be extremely helpful to you!
  5. Celebrate Constitution Day: Scholastic has gathered a list of Constitution games, articles, and activities to help students celebrate the Constitution. Students will have the opportunity to learn about their rights as an American by participating in an online Constitution game and take a virtual field trip to Ellis Island through watching a 30-minute video. This resource offers new ways for students to learn about the history of the Constitution and its relevance today.

Articles

  1. Why Do We Still Celebrate Constitution Day?: This article explains why we, as Americans, still celebrate Constitution Day. In a world where Constitution Day is often unacknowledged by the public, we continue to celebrate this day because the Constitution “defines the structure of our federal government” and ensures that the government “serves its vital purposes without violating our rights.” The author goes on to give a few examples of average people who have stepped up to defend their rights which are guaranteed in the Constitution. This piece offers a great perspective on the importance of this historical document and how it affects the livelihood of Americans today!

Informational Sites

  1. Constitution Day: Constitutionday.com offers an abundance of information on the Constitution, the Amendments, and the Founding Fathers. Students will be able to learn a lot about George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and other important figures in American history. Using this site for a webquest or having students use this resource to research one specific historical figure would be great activities for the classroom!
  2. U.S. Constitution Signed: History.com has published an informational article on the signing of the U.S. Constitution. By reading this article, students will learn about the Articles of Confederation, the actual signing of the Constitution, and the creation of the Bill of Rights. For a basic understanding of how the Constitution came to be, this resource would be a good one to have students go through.
  3. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day: The Library of Congress provides primary resources, including legislative and executive branch documents, journal articles, and web resources for students to examine. Reading through the Joint Resolution authorizing the president to proclaim specific days (I Am An American Day and Citizenship Day) for recognition, observance, and commemoration and famous presidents making statements on these observance weeks will help students to gain a greater understanding of why these days are important.

Conclusion

Teaching students about Constitution Day is a very important task as they grow up to vote for various political candidates and pieces of legislation. The Constitution is the basis of our democratic government, which is why understanding the document is the key to understanding how the U.S. government was formed and how it works today. By utilizing the resources provided, teaching your students about the Constitution will be a much easier feat!

Additional Resources

  1. Five Constitution Day Activities for the Classroom: education world has put together five Constitution Day activities for the classroom, including watching education videos, completing a lesson plan on whether they would sign the Constitution, playing Bill of Rights Bingo, creating a Class Constitution or Bill of Rights, and playing 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 Constitution.
  2. PBS – Constitution Day Lesson Plan: PBS provides a Constitution Day lesson plan, which gives students the experience of building a government and will help them appreciate the Constitution on a different level. As a warm-up activity, students will work together to create class rules without knowing that you are actually having them create their own Class Constitution. At the end of the warm-up, the class will complete a few handouts, watch a couple videos, and discuss a series of questions. For the main activity, students will work in groups and simulate the roles they are given in a mock debate.
  3. History.com – Lesson Plans on the United States Constitution: History.com offers a few different lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school students on the United States Constitution. Students will participate in art projects, oral history projects, and various activities that will require students to collaborate with one another while learning about the importance of the U.S. Constitution.