Bring your history to life by celebrating Constitution Day in your classroom! This day is usually celebrated on September 17th, and observe the day that American delegates attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss the branches of government, or introduce US government to your elementary students.
What can you include in your Constitution Day celebration? Bonus! You can find this information and more with my Constitution Day resource!
1. Read Alouds
Make sure you have a great selection of read alouds as you prep and teach the lesson. There are many great selections to choose from like The U.S. Constitution by Norman Pearl which is told from the perspective of James Madison in kid-friendly language. There’s also a great read, We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow. It’s an everyday and hilarious depiction of big ideas from the U.S. Constitution.
Read aloud time is great for students to ask questions and for you to gauge what they already know about the Constitution, or the U.S. government in general. Create a list of talking points or questions they may have that you can answer as you complete your lesson.
2. Resource Reads
If you have upper elementary students, inspire them with a selection of independent reading options and reference texts. Allow students time to explore the topic on their own and see what they can glean independently. Students can then share their knowledge collectively in groups or as a class.
Check out some great reads like The Constitution Decoded: A Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation by Katie Kennedy, or What Does the Constitution Say?: A Kid’s Guide to How Our Democracy Works by Ben Sheehan. You might also try For Which We Stand: How Our Government Works and Why It Matters by Jeff Foster – this includes highly detailed illustrations and graphics which lead readers through the heavy documentation that is the Constitution.
3. Puzzles and Activities
After reading and discussion, have students work together or independently with activities. My resources includes activities that fit together like a puzzle, where each part has to be complete in order for the pieces to come together. Have students think about what they would include in a Constitution, or what parts they find relevant today. Review the branches of government and the various amendments. I have two versions so you can choose what works best for your students and grade level.
4. Create a Class Constitution
A great way to solidify what is learned on Constitution Day is to create your very own version in class! Discuss as a class what is most important to your class, how others are treated, how they are kept safe, and have peace within class. My resource includes everything you need to create a Class Constitution and display it.
I love having a mini-celebration in my classroom for Constitution Day. It can be used to introduce government to my students, and I can figure out what they already know which will set the tone for my future lessons in U.S. history. I really enjoy creating the Class Constitution as well, allowing students to decide what is most important to them in developing the culture of our class. As the excitement of a new school year starts to wane and we all get to know each other better, this is the perfect time to have them think about what they want to aid their success.
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