Constitution Day: Application in the Classroom

Today’s post comes from Chelsea Tremblay and Renee Rhodes, interns in our Education and Public Programs division.

On Wednesday, September 17, 2014, we celebrated the 228th anniversary of the signing of our nation’s founding document at the National Archives—the permanent home of the U.S. Constitution.

That morning of Constitution Day (commemorated on September 17th each year), we hosted a naturalization ceremony during which 35 new United States citizens swore their oaths of allegiance. Each one was so excited to become a citizen right in front of the Constitution.

We offered multiple family activities for visitors in our Boeing Learning Center. By participating in various activities, National Archives guests learned more about the Constitution’s creation and purpose.

In fact, many Constitution Day activities can be adapted to use in your classroom:

Write your own amendment to the Constitution.Board of new amendments

Students took time to document the issues they find important enough to be added to the U.S. Constitution. For example, one visitor believed every middle school student should be given free shoes.

Additional proposed amendments included:

  • All Americans should pay equal taxes.
  • Every Friday and Saturday there should be free cheese.
  • “No smoking in the United States. Smoking can give you cancer and sometimes you can die. I would have smoking sensors all around the United States.”
  • “Every 4 yards there will be a Chick-Fil-A.”Mock new amendment (1)

Gander through DocsTeach.org to find examples of failed proposed amendments (there have been over 11,000!) to share with students while they learn about the amendment making process.

Build an educational and fun story.

Student doing MadLibs

Students used a fill-in-the-blank story-building activity to help them craft a silly, but educational, naturalization story about immigrants becoming United States citizens. Using this interactive method allowed them to be creative while also learning facts about the process.

This type of activity is flexible and can be adapted to any topic. Here’s an example (PDF) of how we combined humor and educational information in one activity.  (You can download the PDF worksheet for your classroom).

Constitution Day included other fun events: from building a flag for 51 states, to writing with quill pens, to unscrambling the Preamble.

Crafts and games provide a good basis for lessons and, though some that we utilized may be too messy for a classroom, they are still options to inspire other ideas. You can see more of the activities in photos on Flickr!

Girls examining documents

You can also check out some of our many student-friendly resources available online:

And if you’re in the DC area, keep an eye out for future family days, and come join the fun!

 

This National Archives program was supported in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generosity of John Hancock. The Boeing Learning Center was made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the support of The Boeing Company.

 

This entry was posted in Programs, Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.