: The Constitution is a weighty concept for young children. The language is difficult to understand, and the text is extremely long. The best strategy is to teach students about its content and purpose so they can understand why it is such an important document and how it protects our freedom.
Today we are learning to use information in order to understand the rules that run our country by using the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
3RL1, 3RL6, 3SL3, 3SL2, 3W10
journals, chart paper, markers, pencils, Schoolhouse Rock video “Preamble to the Constitution”
: During the transition into Social Studies, create a lull, a period when students have no direction. Students will either sit quietly, start to talk, or fool around. After a few minutes, stop the class and ask them what they noticed. Responses may be that they aren’t doing anything, they didn’t know what to do, or they were allowed to do what they wanted. Question whether they feel school would be a productive environment if they were allowed to do whatever they wanted. This conversation will serve as the basis for the first entry in the students’ dialogical notebooks. Have them explain their reasoning (why or why not). Have students switch journals to share their responses with a partner, who will in turn write a response to their thoughts in the journal. Have a few students share both responses, reinforcing the idea that any environment without rules, laws, or guidelines for expected behavior is not a conducive one for growth and productivity. Advise the students that this discussion will serve as the foundation for discussing why we have a Constitution in the first place. Read the learning goal/objective as it is written on the board.
**Note: review the Founding of the United States or the lesson introduction prior to teaching this lesson. This lesson can be done in 2 parts, one for the Constitution and one for the Bill of Rights, discussing the meaning of each amendment and why it was important to include at the time.
Display a copy of the Constitution. Advise students of its purpose as given in the introduction.
Explain that the Constitution was written for the sole purpose of making sure that the people agreed on the power the government (President, Congress, and Supreme Court) should have. Once the framers wrote the Constitution, it had to be ratified by the states.
The main reservation people had about the Constitution they ratified was that rights were not mentioned, which left them unprotected. This concern led to the creation of the Bill of Rights. (display and discuss the Bill of Rights)
Have a few students share what they have learned about the purpose of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in their own words (point of view). Students will keep their journals for the next lesson.
We will know we’ve got it when we can explain the purpose of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
How does developing your own point of view help you to better understand the purpose of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
Possible people to research include our early leaders and the Framers of the Constitution: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and James Monroe.