1-2-3 Come Do Some Constitution Day Activities With Me
With a federal mandate that any schools accepting federal funds, need to do some educational activity associated with the Constitution, on September 17th, I wanted to think up something that my Y5’s could easily understand.
With everything else that teachers have to cover, I also wanted what we did to be something simple and especially relevant to them.
This packet does exactly that, because I've tied it into classroom management: jobs of students and teachers, as well as the rules and regulations they must follow.
These activities not only tie in with the Constitution, they are quick and easy to implement. Children can wrap their heads around these Constitutional comparisons and the result will be a more caring classroom climate, with less inappropriate behavior.
The Constitution is a document that serves as the foundation of American government. To help explain this to students, make a document of jobs as well as rules for your classroom and have all of the children sign it.
The Constitution is broken up into 3 branches. (Legislative, Executive, and Judicial) They all have specific jobs. Like wise, teachers and students have jobs.
First, discuss and make a list of all the jobs and responsibilities of a good student. Then make up a list of jobs (responsibilities) for teachers. I’ve included headers for you to put up on your board, so that you can brainstorm with your students and write things under the appropriate heading.
Children’s discussion will often involve what they think the qualities of a good student and good teacher are. I’m sure some of their ideas will make you smile. ( “Teachers need to smell nice.” )
Write students’ ideas on the board. I’ve included a completed list of things we thought of to help you, as well as blank templates to fill in your own. I’d enjoy seeing what your kiddos come up with. You can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hang up your lists on a bulletin board. There’s also a poster that you can put in the middle of your board, after all of your students have signed it.
Next, discuss your rules. Because students have been in school for several weeks, you’ve hopefully have already established a list of rules with them. If you don't have a set of rules posted, click on the link for my simple rules poster.
Review the rules and make a list of them on the board. (Tie this in with the Constitution, as our country also has rules, which are laws that people must follow.)
Discuss how things are going . Is everyone following the rules? Are they good rules; fair rules; necessary? Do you need to change, modify, or add any rules? (Tie this in with the Constitution by briefly explaining the amendments to the Constitution.) I've included a writing prompt page where students can jot down 3 reasons why doing their job and following rules is important.
What are the consequences of not following the rules? What do they think would happen if there were no rules to follow and everyone adopted an “anything goes” attitude? (Briefly discuss the correlation of this to the Constitution’s checks, balances and punishment for breaking laws.)
An easy way to make your classroom constitution is to make a social contract. Head your poster: “We the (kindergarten) students of (Orchard Trails Elementary) promise to . . .” and then list what students feel are important promises (rules, jobs and responsibilities).
Have each child sign the poster. (Remember to have new students sign it too.) This is now a working document (like the Constitution). Discuss how signing something is a big deal. This is binding. Even young children understand the importance of a promise and following through. (“But you promised . . .) If the class as a whole, or an individual student, is not keeping their promises per the terms of your social contract, refer to the poster and ask:
“Did you promise to follow the rules, be a good listener, be kind to one another? etc.” (Obviously they did.) After thy take responsibility for their actions then ask: “What would have been a better choice? What should happen now?” Click on the link to view/download the Constitution Day Jobs & Rules Packet.
I found a cute social contract over at Corner Character blog spot. I like how she wrote each promise in a different color marker and then had students add their painted handprint to the side of the chart, adding their names when the paint dried.
I designed my own social contract, tracing my students' hands on a variety of colors of construction paper.
I glued our "promise poster" to the center of a piece of tag board, then "framed" it with the colorful prints.
For more accountability, have children sign their own names, which makes them feel important & more accountable. For added pizzazz, when school pictures come back, copy, cut & glue one to each child's hand.
Our social contract has been so successful, that I decided to share it in a "School Rules Classroom Management" packet. Click on the link to check it out.
Follow up these activities by reading “We the Kids” by David Catrow. He makes understanding the Preamble to the Constitution accessible to children in a fun and humorous way. A glossary of terms and a foreword by the artist are also included.
Since the Preamble is one of the most famous and familiar parts of the Constitution, I’ve included several trace and write worksheets in the packet.
I find that a short video is often the best way to review and get more information into my students’ minds. A nice way to end your day is to choose a short video from this American history website.
The first one is only 4 minutes, another on the Founding Fathers is 3 minutes and a final one entitled America Gets A Constitution is 4 minutes. They are easy for little ones to understand and include some good background information.
Thanks for visiting. Time to go watch the Detroit Lions hopefully win a football game!
"If you want to know where your heart is, go to where your mind goes when it wanders." -Unknown