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Constitution Day Activities 2021

In order to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of one of America’s founding documents, schools are required by federal law to incorporate the Constitution into instruction. To support you in implementing this, we’ve assembled a list of links to websites that provide a variety of activities ranging from games, primary sources, and videos for you to choose from.

Get ready for September 17, Constitution Day, with these preK-12 Constitution Day activities, lesson plans and resources. The Share My Lesson team has selected a variety of free lesson plans, educational resources and classroom materials to support you while celebrating Constitution Day with your students.

Each year we recognize the September 17th as the anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Created in 1956, its is to promote civics education and the study of the U.S. Constitution. Check out the blog post, The Rule of Law and Why It Matters from Facing History and Oursleves and Teaching What Unites Us: The Values of Democracy from Global Oneness Project for more ideas.

 

Share My Lesson is a proud partner of the Civics Renewal Network, an alliance of 31 nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations committed to increasing the quality of civics education in our nation’s schools and improving accessibility to high-quality, no-cost learning materials through a one-stop website.

On September 17, schools across the country will dig into the U.S. Constitution—4,400 words that define how our government works. A 2004 law signed by President George W. Bush established September 17 as Constitution Day (previously known as Citizenship Day). The law requires government employees and schools that receive federal funds to devote time on this day to learning about this 233-year-old document. An older law, established in 1956, sets aside September 17–23 as Constitution Week. Celebrate the freedoms this document grants us in September and all year long!

Constitution Day Activities for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students

No time this year to put together lessons or classroom activities for Constitution Day? We’ve got you covered! Here are six activities that can be adapted for a range of grade levels.

1. Democracy at Play (Educational Games; Grades 3–12)

Make learning about the U.S. Constitution fun with iCivics’ games. Students can try their hand at running a Constitutional law firm, in English or Spanish, with the game Do I Have a Right? They can also play Executive Command to experience what it’s like to run the Oval Office, and take on the challenge of balancing the three parts of our government with Branches of Power. For more learning fun, challenge students to figure out which Founding Father they are most like by taking this quiz from the National Constitution Center.

2. Celebrate Your Rights (Poetry/Song Writing; Grades K–12)

Try going old-school to teach kids about the Constitution. Thanks to the catchy lyrics of this Schoolhouse Rock song, students will be able to recite the 52-word preamble in no time. Challenge them to write a poem or song about another part of the Constitution, such as the Bill of Rights. They might also choose to focus on a particular amendment, like the 13th amendment, which ended slavery in 1865, or the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.

3. A Classroom Bill of Rights (Persuasive Writing; K–12)

Tell students that the writers of the Constitution knew the document would have to change with the times. So far, there have been 27 amendments to the Constitution. The first 10 are called the Bill of Rights. These include freedom of speech, religion, the press, and the right to assemble. Have students watch this video from the National Constitution Center to learn about the creation and ratification of the Bill of Rights. Short on time? Here’s a three-minute video explainer.

Next, challenge students to write a Bill of Rights for your classroom. The document should include 10 of the rights and freedoms they expect in the classroom, whether that’s in person or online. Start with a whole-class brainstorm of amendments. Provide students with an example or two to ensure they get the idea:

  • Students have the right to express their opinions, as long as they do so respectfully.
  • Students have the right to a half hour of free time every day, as long as they follow rules.

Write up student ideas in a word document, revising it until three-fourths of the class has ratified it. Once your classroom Bill of Rights is finalized, share it with students so they can each sign it.

Your middle and high school students can further explore the Bill of Rights with this downloadable worksheet.

 

4. Constitutional Convention Up–Close (Art Analysis; K–12)

Display this painting of George Washington at the Constitutional Convention, in 1787.

Image courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Invite students to describe what they see:

  • What do you notice about the people in the painting?
  • What are the people in the painting doing?
  • Where is George Washington? Why do you think the painter put him there?
  • Do you think the people in the painting reflect the people who live in the United States today? Explain.
  • Tell students the Constitutional Convention brought together 55 men to represent their states in the creation of our government. If this convention were held today, who would you like to see represented? Explain.

Have middle and high school students dig deeper into the Constitutional Convention using this downloadable worksheet.

5. Room for Debate (Opinion Writing; Grades 5–12)

It’s a topic that has sparked debate in the past as well as the present: Should the U.S. eliminate the Electoral College system? Have your students write a persuasive essay arguing for or against. They should include a brief general background about the Electoral College, which is outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. Tell students their essay should include: What the Electoral College is, how it works, and why it was established in the first place. Then, they should provide at least two reasons they feel the system does or doesn’t work. For extra credit, they can find a recent news article about the Electoral College and reference that article in their paper to support their argument. If you want to take it a step further, select pro and con supporters to hold a debate, staged like the presidential debates.

6. Presidential Powers (Research; Grades 3–8)

Tell students that they will create a help wanted ad for the job of U.S. president, using details from the Constitution and sample help wanted ads. First, provide students with a few sample job ads. Ask: What kind of information do the ads include? (Students should note that the ads include job duties, qualifications, and required skills.) What do you notice about the way the information is organized? (Students might note the use of bulleted lists, bolded words, or the order of information.) Next, provide students with a copy of Article II, Sections 1–4, of the U.S. Constitution and the “Help Wanted” activity sheet. Tell them to take notes on presidential duties, qualifications, and skills on the “Help Wanted” handout using information they find in the Constitution. Finally, have students use their notes to write a help-wanted ad for the position of commander in chief. Allow time for students to share their ads with the class.

Activities for Grades 3–5

To celebrate Constitution Day, students learn about one of our founding documents through online readings discussing the fundamentals of the Constitution and by playing online games to discover more about the branches of government established by the Constitution as well as the Preamble.

Activities for Grades 6–8

Through readings, videos and online games, students learn more about the founding principles of the Constitution and determine which constitutionally protected rights are illustrated in everyday situations.

Activities for Grades 9–10

Using videos from the National Archives students can learn more about the ratification and amendment processes of the Constitution. They also can play online games to determine what situations would violate constitutional rights.

Activities for Grades 11–12

Students use a primary source to analyze the development of the Preamble to the Constitution. Online games and videos give students the chance to learn more about the founding principles of the Constitution and the rights contained in it.

Constitution Day recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. Constitution Day is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

NCSC has gathered a list of Constitution Day activities taking place across the country.

American Bar Association (ABA)

On September 17, the nation marks Constitution Day by reflecting on the U.S. Constitution and the role that we as citizens of this constitutional democracy play in bringing to life the cherished principles enshrined by this great document. From the opening three words of its Preamble – We, the People – the Constitution makes clear that the true power of our nation emanates from and resides with the individuals who make it up.

This Constitution Day, as the nation welcomes new citizens participating in naturalization ceremonies throughout the country, let’s reflect on the meaning of good citizenship and ask ourselves what more we can do to promote civic education and participation in our communities.

Grade
Lesson Plan

 

Matching Game with the U.S. Constitution   

This lesson introduces students to the Constitution. Students participate in a matching game to learn what the Constitution is and what it does for them. They will recognize key images related to the Constitution and its history.

Orb and Effy Learn about Authority 

This lesson introduces the study of authority. Children learn when people are exercising authority and when they are exercising power without authority. Children learn how and why authority is useful in society.

1

The Constitution: The Country’s Rules 

In this lesson, students develop an awareness of the Constitution by exploring what it is and why it is important. Students examine their classroom rules poster as an introduction to the concept of rules and learn that the Constitution is the law of the United States.

1–2

Constitution Day Rap  

This lesson introduces students to important facts about the Constitution and its history. Students create a thirteen-star flag and read or perform the Constitution Day Rap.

What Is Authority? 

This lesson introduces the study of authority. Students learn two very important concepts: authority and limited government. Students also learn the importance of examining and choosing people for positions of leadership.

 3–4

What Basic Ideas Are in the Preamble to the Constitution?  

This lesson explores some ideas in the Preamble to the Constitution. Students learn that the power to govern belongs to the people who have created the government to protect their rights and promote their welfare.

 3–5

What Is Democracy 

n this lesson from the We the People: The Citizen & Democracy textbook, students will learn a very simple definition of democracy from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The lesson introduces the essential elements of a democracy, which is a country where the people have the right to make all the rules and laws either directly or by means of elected representatives. The teacher’s goal for the lesson is to help students understand what it means for a democracy to be a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.



4–5

What Should the Representative Do?     

In this lesson, students discuss how laws are made. In particular, they discuss what makes a good law, how representatives in Congress gather information about the issues requiring laws, and how their constituents feel about the issues and possible solutions. Through a public hearing simulation, students learn how difficult the decisions for lawmakers can be.

How Should We Choose People for Positions of Authority?

Students learn that under our system of government citizens have to choose people for positions of authority. It is important to know how to choose well. This lesson helps students to identify the requirements of a position of authority and the qualifications a person should possess to fill that position. Students learn a set of intellectual tools designed to help them both analyze the duties of the position and to decide if an individual is qualified to serve in that particular position. During the lesson students practice using the intellectual tools.



5–6

What Basic Ideas about Government Are Included in the Preamble to the Constitution?  

This lesson explores some of the ideas in the Preamble to the Constitution. Students read the Preamble and develop definitions for the six key phrases in the document.



5–8

Remembering 9/11: Building Tolerance 

These lessons asks students to look not just at the events of 9/11 but at the following days and years. The lessons involve students in exploring the parts of a newspaper, the functions of a news article, and the importance of a free press in a democratic society. Classroom activities prompt students to discuss the need for and role of heroes. Students learn how to identify unifying factors in a diverse society, distinguish between fact and opinion, examine different points of view, analyze legal issues that have arisen as a result of the terrorist attacks, and much more. Lesson four, Today’s Hero, also includes activities for grades K–4.



6–8

How Should We Choose People for Positions of Authority?Students learn to identify the requirements of a position of authority and the qualifications a person should possess to fill that position. Students learn a set of intellectual tools designed to help them both analyze the duties of a position and to decide if an individual is qualified to serve in that  particular position. In an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s Winning of the West, students learn the characteristics that qualified Lewis and Clark to fulfill the responsibilities of leading an expedition to the West.



7–8

What is the Federal System Created by the Constitution? 

This lesson teaches students about the federal system of government created by the Framers. Students learn about popular sovereignty, federalism, and the supremacy clause of the Constitution.

7–12

What Is the Census and Why Do We Use It?     New

Many students do not understand the importance of the U.S. Census and why it is taken. This lesson will help students understand the importance of the Census historically and the importance of its contemporary use.

9/11 and the Constitution: On American Identity, Diversity, and Common Ground 

The anniversaries of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, provide us an opportunity to reflect upon who we are as Americans, examine our most fundamental values and principles and affirm our commitment to them, and evaluate progress toward the realization of American ideals and propose actions that might narrow the gap between these ideals and reality. These lessons are designed to accomplish these goals.

9–10

Constitution Day Scavenger Hunt with 60-Second Civics 

Fifty-five delegates were present at the Constitutional Convention, which was held in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. Most students can identify George Washington, James Madison, and maybe even Alexander Hamilton. But what about the other fifty-two delegates? Who were they? How did they influence the convention? In this lesson students will familiarize themselves with the delegates by listening to a series of 60-Second Civics podcast episodes devoted to the Framers of the Constitution.

To Amend or Not to Amend, That’s Been the Question…Many Times 

This lesson asks students to examine recent proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, analyze them for public policy triggering mechanisms, and compare and contrast them to amendments that have been ratified.

How Was the Constitution Used to Organize the New Government? 

 

This lesson explains the five major accomplishments of the first Congress. Students learn how the Constitution provided a general framework for the government.

Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Constitution   

This lesson traces Lincoln’s political life during a time of constitutional crisis. It examines Lincoln’s ideas and decisions regarding slavery and the use of presidential power to preserve the Union.

9–12

Citizenship and the U.S. Constitution 

In this lesson students will examine the concept of “citizen” from a definitional perspective of what a citizen is and from the perspective of how citizenship is conferred in the United States. Students will discuss the rights and responsibilities of citizens and non-citizens and review the changing history of citizenship from colonial times to the present.

 

Responsibility and the U.S. Constitution  

In this lesson, students learn about responsibility and apply the concept to segments of the U.S. Constitution.

How Should We Choose People for Positions of Authority? 

Students learn to identify the requirements of a position of authority and the qualifications a person should possess to fill that position. Students learn a set of intellectual tools designed to help them both analyze the duties of a position and to decide if an individual is qualified to serve in that  particular position. Students apply the intellectual tools to a job description fro president of the Untied States and create a list of some of the characteristics a person should have to fill the position and perform well in that office.

11–12

Did the Nineteenth Amendment provide women with more than the right to vote? Which Amendment process was used? How did this Amendment affect the United States in the last one hundred years? All of these questions and many others are discussed in this lesson.

Historical Analysis of Constitutional Amendments 

In this lesson, students examine one of six key amendments to the Constitution while considering their historical context. Students create timelines for each amendment that are later combined to fully evaluate and interpret how the Constitution has evolved within its historical context.

What Does Returning to Fundamental Principles Mean? 

This lesson presents a series of quandaries that represent many great ideas and principles that have shaped our constitutional heritage. In each exercise, students apply principles and ideas to a contemporary issue and then take a position and defend their judgments.

What Is the Role of the President in the American Constitutional System?   

This lesson examines sources of presidential power and ways that checks and balances limit presidential power. Students explain the president’s constitutional responsibilities, identify checks on the president’s power, and defend positions involving the exercise of presidential power.

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