Celebrate the Constitution

Schoolhouse Rock
U.S. Constitution Preamble song from Schoolhouse Rock - You Tube Video
An elementary class performing the Schoolhouse Rock version of the Preamble. Why not try this with your class? Enlist the help of the music teacher!

Hand signs for the preamble. Use these hand signs to help students remember and act out the Preamble.

The U.S. Constitution
National Archives web
National Constitution Center web
Constitutional Sources Project web
Bill of Rights: The First Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution Student Handout

Pennsylvania Constitution
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Information and explanation about the Pennsylvania Constitution
Declaration of Rights from the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - Student Handout

Lesson: The Pennsylvania Constitution as Compared to the United States Constitution
A Look at the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions - Rights and Freedoms: Where Are They Found?
Preamble Scramble

Online Activities
iCivics
iCivics is a web-based education project designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy. iCivics is the vision of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation, and that civics teachers need better materials and support.

FantasySCOTUS - Supreme Court of the United States
FantasySCOTUS is a Supreme Court fantasy league in which players predict current case outcomes, and it is already a wild hit with law students, attorneys, and judicial chambers across the country. In the high school edition, Harlan selects cases of special interest to students. The students learn about fundamental legal principles, make predictions about these cases, compete and collaborate with other classes nationwide, and write analytical blog posts about them. The site is free for all teachers and students to use, and can be used as a classroom exercise, or in extra-curricular clubs like debate teams or Junior Statesmen of America clubs. FantasySCOTUS is effective for pedagogical purposes because it is real and relevant. Rather than focusing entirely on cases from the past, as all textbooks do, students address current cases that they read about in the news. The study of law is routinely presented as dry, dull, and irrelevant to most people; FantasySCOTUS elaborates on current cases which have immediate impacts on people's lives.

The Harlan Institute
The Harlan Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping high school teachers educate students about the United States Constitution and our legal system. The Harlan Institute's mission is to bring about a stylized law school experience into the high school classroom to ensure that our next generation of leaders has a proper understanding of our most fundamental laws. By utilizing the expertise of leading legal scholars and the interactivity of online games, Harlan will help teachers introduce students to the Constitution, the cases of the United States Supreme Court, and our system of justice. Visit The Harlan Institute's website to register your classroom and access free lesson plans on current Supreme Court cases, as well as interactive forums and chat rooms. While visiting the site, teachers may also contact staff at Harlan to discuss the program in more detail and how it can supplement their teaching plans.

Center for Civic Education
Please visit the Center for Civic Education's newly designed web site for excellent Constitution Day lessons categorized by grade level.

C-SPAN Classroom
The U.S. Constitution: Teachable Clips is a virtual U.S. Constitution. It features video clips taken from C-SPAN's Video Library with prominent political figures discussing various parts of the Constitution.

U.S. Constitution Vignette (18 minutes)
A short documentary video on the history, meaning, and provisions of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the operation of government within the parameters set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Video footage highlights the operation of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government by providing footage of several recent events and activities such as presidential inaugurals, impeachment proceedings, legislative events, and Supreme Court oral arguments. Chief Justice Roberts also talked about ways in which the Constitution had been interpreted and its function as a working document. Classroom discussion questions are provided.

How to search the C-SPAN Video Library
A short YouTube video produced by "Howcast" to help you search the C-SPAN Video Library.

American Institute for History Education
The American Institute for History Education (AIHE) was established to provide engaging historical content and activities for social studies and history teachers to use in their classrooms. AIHE has developed products to dramatically increase students' academic achievements by boosting their comprehension of historical events, personalities and issues. Teaching American History Beyond the Textbook™ with CICERO, and other AIHE tools, improves critical thinking, reading and understanding skills. AIHE specializes in teaching history, professional development for teachers, curriculum design and teaching history products, school grant writing and more.

AIHE TV
AIHE TV has videos for history teachers, students and history buffs.

60-Second Civics
60-Second Civics is a daily podcast from the Center for Civic Education that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation's government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation's history and government. The show's content is primarily derived from the Center's education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Project Citizen, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy.

Annenberg Classroom
Annenberg Classroom offers a wide array of educational resources under a single umbrella. Educators can find curricula, lesson plans, multimedia programs, and other teaching materials all indexed and in conformance with the educational standards of their state. Search by keyword, by subject area, or by state standard to find one of the richest sets of teaching aids available in a single location.

Which Founder Are You?
Have students take the "Which Founder Are You?" online quiz from the National Constitution Center. Students answer a series of questions that help them learn about themselves and then see which of the drafters of the Constitution they are most like. The quiz helps make the Founding fathers more relatable to students and shows them as "ordinary" men.

The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952 - 2008
This is a great resource for teachers! The site has presidential election campaign commercials from 1952-2008 and includes lesson plans.

Constitution Day Videos feature Supreme Court Justices Talking with Students about the Constitution
Viewers will get firsthand perspectives on how the Supreme Court decides what the Constitution means when they watch a 37-minute conversation with Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer and a group of high school students. The taped discussion explores different theories of judicial interpretation and how they affect not only the outcomes of cases but democracy and daily life.

The video is available on the Educational Outreach pages of the federal courts' Internet site at http://www.uscourts.gov/outreach/index.html and can be shown on a large screen. Courts have found it easy to host high school students to watch the program in a courtroom. A judge facilitates the follow-up discussion of the issues using an optional, prepared discussion guide found at http://www.uscourts.gov/outreach/resources/constitutionday.html#discussion

PBS - Public Broadcasting Service Lessons
Why Celebrate Constitution Day? A lesson plan for grades 9-12 from PBS.

Supreme Court Watch
George Washington and the Rule of Law
George Washington and Civic Virtue And there are others on topics like slavery, religious liberty, equal protection of law, government by consent, constitution and idea of compromise, and more.
Inside the Voting Booth What a difference one vote makes - an historical look at how elections would have been changed by one vote.
Step into a voting time machine - would you have been able to vote in another time in history?
You Make the Rules Small groups of students form their own clubs then determine their mission and common goals, a name for their club, and a logo. Then each group writes a charter which specifies their goals, decision-making procedures, meeting times, and so on. Upon completion, each group member signs the charter.

Lessons

Resources from StreetLaw
New resources from the 2010 Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers
New and updated resources and teaching materials for recently decided Supreme Court cases are now available on the Institute's resource page.

About the Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers
Since it began in 1995, the Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers has brought together over 800 teachers from across the country to convene in Washington, D.C., for six days of educational activities related to teaching about the U.S. Supreme Court. The Institute is co-sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Teaching about Miranda warnings
During the 2009-10 term, the U.S. Supreme Court considered several cases about Miranda warnings. We have collected a variety of teaching resources, both on the original case of Miranda v. Arizona, and on the issues regarding these warnings over the past 44 years.

The Best of StreetLaw.org
A compilation of links to StreetLaw's most popular resources.

What are my Rights?
High School 9 - 12
Time: Three 1-hour sessions
Author: Leslie Harper Blatteau New Haven, Connecticut
Studying the Constitution can seem less than vital to students who are most interested in issues that directly affect them. This lesson engages students in a study of the First Amendment by using it to explore youth curfews, demonstrating the impact that the law can have on their everyday lives. Using the text of the First Amendment as a starting point, students discuss whether youth curfews are constitutional. They then use a case study to closely examine both sides of the issue, debate the issue with their peers, hypothesize about the possibility of a youth curfew in their own community, and create a blog about the issue.

Bill of Rights Institute
Celebrate Constitution Day, September 17, with these activities provided by the Bill of Rights Institute.

We the People
This lesson from Scholastic helps students in grades 5-8 recognize the different parts of the U.S. Constitution and understand the significance of each part. Students will build their reading and interpretive skills by working with newspaper articles and drawing conclusions based on the information presented. They will summarize their conclusions through persuasive writing.

Orb and Effy Learn about Authority (Elementary level)
A complete lesson on authority from the Orb and Effy Learn about Authority book. In this lesson, young children learn that when people have a right to tell others what to do in certain situations, they are exercising authority. When they do not have that right, they are exercising power without authority. Children learn some ways in which people earn the right to exercise authority. The lesson also illustrates problems that are likely to arise in the absence of effective authority. Children learn how and why authority is useful

A Classroom Lesson on Developing the Federal Budget
Grade level 11-12
Time required: 2 class periods
During the Dirksen Congressional Center's annual Congress in the Classroom workshop participants are asked to introduce the lesson plans, resources, and techniques that have proven successful in teaching about Congress in their classrooms. A 2005 participant, Lori Dumerer, R.L. Turner High School, Carrollton, TX, presented a lesson entitled, "The Saga of the Money Trail: Developing the Federal Budget." In this lesson, students trace the steps in the federal budget-making process. They will recognize the complexity involved in the budget process, including the competing demands for funds. Students will analyze how compromise leads to the final budget.

Mock Constitution Signing PDF

What Responsibilities Accompany Our Rights?
Teacher's version
Student version

What is a Republican Government?
Teacher's version
Student version

Celebrate the Constitution special court re-enactment program from Chester County. Includes a script and mock trial related to slavery and freedom issues.

Teaching Civics through Literature - A Reading List in PDF and Word.

Mindwalk - "Ten Things I'd Rather Be Doing" (and other variations) in PDF.

The Constitutional Mindwalk

The Constitution and Money

Effectively Using Judges and Lawyers as Community Resources in Your Classroom: A Guide for Teachers

How One Pennsylvania School District "Celebrates the Constitution" and Civics Education All Year Long

Classroom Discussions and Activities
Right to Jury Trial
Ask students to describe what it would be like if there were no jury. Who would decide the outcome of a case if there were no jury? Would this be more fair? Is a judge better able to decide the law, facts and truth than citizens? What are some benefits to a jury system? Why did we decide to have a jury system? Are there other alternatives besides a judge or a jury?

Develop a Student Bill of Rights

Ask students to create a comic strip or cartoon about...

  • Most important right
  • Student making a difference in the school

Test Your Knowledge -What's your Constitution IQ? Interactive and print versions are available. There is a basic 10 questions quiz and two different, 50-questions, "expert" level tests (appropriate for high school students)

Constitution Fun Facts

Elementary-level Word Find
Constitution Word Find
Word Finds for high school students. Includes vocabulary list with definitions. web
Elementary-level Word find
A Constitutional Logic Puzzle Student Handout and Answer Sheet
Cryptogram (US Constitution Preamble)
Constitution LINGO and Anagrams

Coloring Pages
Below are some links to coloring pages for you to evaluate for your use in teaching about the Constitution and other U.S. history, government and civics lessons. We welcome resources and ideas from you that you would like to share with your colleagues.

Constitution Preamble Coloring Sheet

For "Celebrate the Constitution," you could use George Washington and James Madison (the only two presidents to sign the Constitution).

Coloring pages of most presidents most presidents.

"Proud to Be an American" ethnically diverse kids.

Coloring pages of the White House, Independence Hall, U.S. Supreme Court, etc.

Children's Literature with Social Studies Themes
The Delaware Center for Teacher Education, Delaware Social Studies Education Project at the University of Delaware has developed an excellent Web resource illustrating how children's books can be used to teach social studies themes. Books are listed for grades K-2, 3-4 and 5-6 in the categories of History, Geography, Economics and Civics. Civics books are further categorized into Government, Rules and Laws, Values and Principles, Citizen's Rights and Privileges and Participation in Civic Life.

"America's Legislators Back to School Program" from the National Conference of State Legislatures
The program kicks off in September and runs throughout the school year giving legislators and teachers flexibility in scheduling classroom visits. Information is available on the NCSL Web site and includes lesson plans that outline for students the importance of representative democracy, the message that their voice counts and the valid role of special interest groups in the process. The plans complement the NCSL publication "Your Ideas Count," a student booklet used by legislators as a "leave behind" resource after their classroom visit. Teachers are invited to download the lesson plans and use them as appropriate in their classrooms. There are lesson plans for high school, middle school and elementary school classes. Many other resources are available on NCSL's America's Legislators Back to School Program Web page.

The Dirksen Congressional Center
Lesson Plans about Congress on the Web

Justice by the People (Grades 5-8)
These easy-to-use, turnkey lesson plans and student reproducibles are designed to help you teach students about the Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the United States Constitution and the critical importance of the right to trial by jury.

Landmark Cases
This site was developed to provide teachers with a full range of resources and activities to support the teaching of landmark Supreme Court cases, helping students explore the key issues of each case.

Education World Lesson Planning for Constitution Day
Education World has gathered dozens of lesson ideas and other resources to help you recognize Constitution Day, whether you teach kindergarten or college.

Getting the Word Out to the Community
Involving the Media and Legal Community
Sample Media Advisory in PDF and Word
Sample News Release in PDF and Word

Resources
Pennsylvania Bar Foundation
LEAP-Kids (Law, Education & Peace for Children)
American Bar Association
American Institute for History Education
Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society at Susquehanna University
Center for Civic Education
C-SPAN Classroom
Bill of Rights Institute
National Constitution Center
Constitutional Rights Foundation
Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago
Youth for Justice
Landmark Cases
Scholastic
StreetLaw

Archives of past PBA Celebrate the Constitution Programs and Lesson Guides
2011     Program Overview
2010     Program Overview
2007      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2006      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2005      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2004      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2003      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2002      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2001      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
2000      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
1999      Lesson Guide      Program Overview
1999      PBA Wins National Outreach Award





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