September 17 is designated as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The National Archives is the permanent home of the U.S. Constitution.
Here we’ve compiled some resources from the National Archives and some of our partner organizations that you can use for teaching about the Constitution.
A special DocsTeach page for teaching about the Constitution
DocsTeach is the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives. On this page you can find online activities to teach about checks and balances, separation of powers, amendments, the Bill of Rights, slavery and the Constitution, and more.
“The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit
Learn about the creation and history of the Constitution, whose permanent home is the National Archives.
Exploring the United States Constitution eBook
Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution. These records exemplify the workings of the three branches of the federal government as laid out in our Constitution.
The United States Constitution course on iTunes U
Learn about the Constitutional Convention, drafting and ratifying the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the three branches of our Federal government, and how the National Archives is preserving our Constitution.
Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution
In this lesson, students analyze the text of the Constitution in a variety of ways, examine primary sources to identify their relationship to its central ideas, and debate the core constitutional principles as they relate to today’s political issues.
Search through letters and other writings of six of our Founding era men, including James Madison, often called the father of the Constitution, in our new portal. The documents are fully transcribed and most are annotated.
Primary Sources on Congress in the Archives
Read featured Tumblr posts related to the U.S. Constitution.
Constitution Day Activity with Primary Sources from the LBJ Library
Students read the Constitution then place records into context. The documents primarily deal with the executive branch of government, but you can supplement documents from other archives to extend the activity to other branches.
Nixon and the 26th Amendment, an Exhibit on the Presidential Timeline
On July 1, 1971 the Twenty-sixth Amendment was officially adopted to the United States Constitution. For the first time in American history, 18-20 year olds from across the nation could cast their ballot in state, local, and presidential elections. The fight for the youth vote was an important part of the 1972 campaign and, arguably, every election since then.
President Reagan’s Remarks at the “We the People” Bicentennial Celebration from the Reagan Library
Students can read an excerpt from this speech in Philadelphia, on September 17, 1987, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, and answer related questions. Download the PDF file here or find “Constitution Day” under National Holiday Curriculum on the Reagan Library website.
EDSITEment Constitution Day page
The National Endowment for the Humanities compiled a slew of resources, including for reading the Constitution, visualizing the Framers, educational games and modules, websites, resources in Spanish, and more resources for teachers.
Constitution Day Teacher Resources from the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress provides a variety of materials from across its collections. Explore these rich resources and features, including a Constitution Primary Source Set, to learn more about one of America’s most important documents.
Constitution Hall Pass: “Constitution Day 2013: The Legislative Branch” from the National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center gives your students a “hall pass” to travel through American history without leaving the classroom. Video lessons and live chats provide a behind-the-scenes look at how laws are made in the United States. All you need is an internet connection to participate.
Teaching Resources from the Smithsonian
Find lessons and online exhibits from around the Smithsonian, and more Constitution related resources from the National Museum of American History’s History Explorer.
Teaching with Historic Places from the National Park Service
In honor of Constitution Day, the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) program features several classroom lesson plans focusing on places associated with Constitutional issues. You can find more Constitution-related resources on the new “Teachers” section on NPS.gov
Constitution Day Spotlight Page on teachinghistory.org
Learn about the Constitution and its interpretation, engage your students with the Constitution, and test your constitutional knowledge on teachinghistory.org, home of the National History Education Clearinghouse.
3 thoughts on “Resources for Teaching about the Constitution”
GREAT RESOURCES AND USEFUL TOOLS FOR LEARNING ABOUT OUR DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNMENT. I WILL BE USING THEM FREQUENTLY. THANKS, MICHAEL L. SMITH
Michael, it is my understanding, that we do NOT live in a “democracy”….. and that we DO live in a REPUBLIC. The word “democracy” is not mentioned, at all, in the U.S. Constitution. However, that word, “democracy”…. the worst possible form of government, where the majority rules, is thrown about frequently. In this Constitutional Republic, the rule of law protects minorities. This is a huge difference !!! In a republic such as the USA, we are ruled by the rule of law,not the rule of the lawless, and the U.S. Constitution, in its own words, is the Supreme Law of the Land. Thank you for this wonderful info-filled site!