An adaptation of this post is featured on FREE, the Federal Registry for Educational Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.
September 17 is designated as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The Federal Convention had first convened in May to revise the Articles of Confederation, but the need for an entirely new frame of government became clear. State delegates debated issues such as federalism and representation all through the summer as they drafted the articles of the new Constitution.
The National Archives in Washington, DC, is the permanent home of the United States Constitution. Celebrate and learn more about our Federal Government’s founding document with these seven activities and resources.
1. Visit the Constitution in person at the National Archives Museum any day of the year other than Thanksgiving and December 25. And learn more about the creation and history of the Constitution, and meet America’s Founding Fathers, in the “The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit.
2. Participate in Constitution Day events from the Civics Renewal Network, an alliance of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations providing free online resources for civics education:
- Take the Preamble Challenge and join with schools around the country in a reading of the Preamble to the Constitution. Sign up at http://challenge.civicsrenewalnetwork.org/.
- Attend a naturalization ceremony; schools may contact their local federal court. Students can observe or participate by singing the national anthem, leading the Pledge of Allegiance, writing welcome letters to new citizens, or in other ways.
- Find more Constitution Day Resources, including lesson plans and teaching tools.
3. Explore how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789 in “Congress Creates the Bill of Rights.” The eBook, mobile app for tablets, and online teaching resources, created by the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, launch on Constitution Day, September 17, 2014.
4. Plan a visit to the National Archives to participate in a Constitution-in-Action Learning Lab. School groups, families, and other groups of civic-minded individuals can take on the roles of archivists and researchers completing a very important assignment: providing the President of the United States with real-life examples of our Constitution in action.
5. Help kids understand ideas like checks and balances, separation of powers, amendments, the Bill of Rights, slavery and the Constitution, and more through online activities. Go to the Constitution homepage on DocsTeach.org. DocsTeach is the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.
6. 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 in a Constitution course on iTunes U.
7. Connect primary sources that span the course of American history to the principles found in the Constitution. Play “The Constitution at Work” and match primary sources to articles of the Constitution. Or read “Exploring the United States Constitution,” an eBook that explores the Constitutional roots of the three branches of our government.