Constitution Day!

I am actually a certified Secondary Government teacher. I have a degree in Political Science and before I had kids, I worked for the Arizona Supreme Court as a lobbyist.  But I just love the little guys and so I decided to that becoming an elementary teacher was my calling. Just because I teach Third Grade does NOT mean I can't teach about government! In fact, the little guys eat it up!!!

I wanted to give you a little peak into what we did to celebrate Constitution Day in my class. We actually start a couple week before Constitution Day.  I used a couple activities from THIS kit.

Our first lesson is a simple, and fun one about what the Constitution is. I divided the class into 4 groups and gave them the materials for a game they had never seen before. I did not give directions. I just tole them to start playing. They looked at me like, "Mrs. Sears, you have officially lost your marbles!" But soon they started trying to play. A couple groups started arguing right away about the rules. One group just started chatting about recess, friends, etc. My fourth group was so cute. They actually nominated a leader to make decisions for them. WHAT?! How brilliant! After they did this for a while, I called them all together and asked if they had any problems with the game. Of course they did! Everyone said "We didn't know the rules!" It was so perfect. It was almost as if I had given them a script. Too darn bad I wasn't getting an observation! So I told my kiddos that the early Americans didn't have any rules. And just like playing a game without rules, everyone was doing their own thing, their was confusion and their was fighting. They needed rules. And that is why they wrote the Constitution. I told them the rules to the game and gave them time to play with the rules. When we came back together, one little girls loudly announced "Playing with rules is so much more fun!" Dang, where is my observer when I need him! ;-) We wrapped the lesson up by having the kids write a sentence and draw a picture about playing the game with rules and then playing the game without rules.

Th next day we talked about the three parts of the Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments. I read them the book We the People and we broke apart the Preamble to really understand why the Constitution was written. And then we listened to THIS song. The kids loved it. So we listened again. And then I had a crazy, but brilliant, idea. We need to learn this song and perform it for parents! The kids were thrilled. I broke them into 2 groups and we practiced a little each day. More about the singing in a moment...

The next day, the kids went on a scavenger hunt...kinda! I gave them a worksheet with 10 questions about the Constitution. Some of the kids knew the answers right away. Yay! After they tried to complete it on their own, I posted the answers on pieces of paper around the room. They got out of the seats and roamed the room looking for the correct answers to each question. It was a fun and way to jazz up an otherwise boring worksheet.

The next day we talked about the 3 branches of government. My neighbor and I came up with this cute craft to help the kids remember the jobs of each branch.

We just took a brown paper bag, crumpled it up a bit and cut two slits down the top to make 3 branches. Then they cut tree pieces out of construction paper and wrote some details about each branch on them.

The next day we made a class list of all the reasons the Constitution was important. Then the kiddos picked one and finished the prompt. "The Constitution is important because..." Finally, we made this adorable creativity from the kit I linked above.

To make our paper dingy, we made some coffee and had the kids paint it on white construction paper. The good news is that the room smelled of coffee and so no one fell asleep. I may have to try that technique during math...

Our final lesson was the toughest. We talked about how a bill becomes a law. I made a simple PowerPoint to show them. But the highlight of the lesson for the kids was when we watched the Schoolhouse Rock How a Bill Becomes a Law video! I really think it would be fun to split the class into the House and the Senate and have a mock session to show how a bill becomes a law. Sadly, I just didn't have the time. :-(

And that brings us to Tuesday...which was Constitution Day! Only a few nerds, like me, celebrate this day. And even fewer of those nerds have trouble sleeping the night before because they are so excited! I had my class dress in red, white and blue. And they were great by this great big sign!

Everyone was excited! We began our celebration by writing a class constitution. First, we decided why were writing the constitution and wrote that in the preamble. Then they each wrote down a couple of rules that they thought would be good. And together we wrote this beauty...

And the best part...I gave the kids feathers and they signed with ink! They LOVED it!

Our celebration continued with a performance of our We the People song. We had invited the principal to come and watch. (Parent performance is tomorrow night!) The kids were amazing! They brought tears to our eyes. So the principal asked us to wait a couple minutes. She went and got our Super Intendant and other administrators. The students performed 2 more times while they were photographed and video taped. They really were incredible! I am super proud! (And after those mini performances, the principal asked if our classes could learn another song and perform at a large celebration our school does in January. Fun!)

We finished our celebration with some patriotic treats and the kids worked on this mini book that I found HERE for free.

One girl said, "That was the best party ever." WHAT?! A Constitution Day party was the best party ever?! New nerds in the making. I am proud. I went home from school that day feeling exhilarated...and exhausted...but mostly exhilarated!