Celebrate Constitution Day!
The the United States Constitution was signed in September of 1787. It wasn’t ratified by the nine states needed to allow it to take effect until June 21, 1788. That’s three-quarters of a year later.
If you think our political process is slow today, think of how much work it took to get the Constitution approved!
The Constitution is the highest law of the land. It’s the glue that holds the nation together. It’s a living, breathing document that has been working hard for over two centuries.
Teach a lesson honor of the Constitution today.
Here are some free Constitution Day resources to get you started…
iCivics. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor created iCivics to raise civic engagement among youth. Justice O’Connor felt civic participation and education were at an all-time low. She took action. iCivics is really fun–so much so that if your students have studied government before, they probably used this site.
iCivics is free–just sign up, and enjoy the facts, lessons, and simulation games. Try and get law through Congress faster than today’s elected officials. Then study all the branches of government and the Constitution that balances all three.
National Archives and Records Administration The National Archives are a treasure. In the old days, researchers had to request documents, pay the fee, and wait for copies to be mailed. If you were impatient, you could make a long trip to Washington DC to get access.
Today, anyone can be a historian using the National Archives. You could spend your whole career searching these archives and never be done. It’s a gold mine.
For Constitution Day, read the text United States Constitution or the Articles of Confederation that came before it and didn’t work out so well. Then, move on to some other collections when you’re done.
The Constitution Day Center has a countdown clock that starts before every Constitution Day, but the resources are there permanently. Use the lesson plans, read through the historical information, or click the links on the Interactive Constitution to explore the document alongside some of the nation’s leading scholars. The Constitution Day Center is part of the Constitution Museum which you can visit in Washington DC.
The Center for Civic Education has excellent lesson plans and printables organized by grade level. You can buy e-books and resources, but most things are free. Their programs promote grassroots civic knowledge and participation both in the United States and globally.
Pro-Con.org. Pro-Con presents both sides of hot-topic issues. Most of them have direct connections with Constitutional issues. You will delight your middle and high school students with this site.
Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC tracks hate groups and provides social-justice education and legal defenses. They present important case studies connected to several Constitutional issues.
1000+ Ideas for Constitution Day. If we burned every textbook in America in a bonfire, Pinterest wouldn’t . This megaboard of more than a thousand pins has excellent ideas and resources for teaching the Constitution at every grade level.
If you can’t find something here, it doesn’t exist. And, everything I clicked was free.
Supreme Court of the United States. You can’t celebrate the Constitution without stopping the Supreme Court’s website. Take a look at the docket, see what cases are next, read briefs and decisions, and dig into the bios of your Justices.
Go to it!
Have fun with the Constitution. Bring it to life. Ask, “Is this fair?” Show students these documents aren’t dusty scrolls–they’re living, breathing works that affect our lives for better or worse–that it matters.
Then, take one more step. Teach students to be aware of the rights afforded them in the Constitution as well as the rights of others. Teach them to be a champion of those rights, because rights without responsibility is a dangerous thing.