Animals are a wonderful way to teach rights and responsibilities in a safe and welcoming way. In these lessons, The Rendell Center’s dog, Maggie, offers her insight on what it means to be a citizen of the United States. These lessons present a fun way to introduce civics concepts to K-3 students, and to help them consider ways to help others and show they care.
Read Aloud Lessons
Reading aloud helps students learn how to use language and retain key points of the story, while improving their information processing skills, vocabulary, and comprehension. The Rendell Center’s Read Aloud lesson plans, designed for elementary school teachers, offer titles incorporate into their curriculum, provide insights into the book selected to enhance the read aloud session, and deliver activities for presenting civics learning in a fun, memorable way.
Literature-Based Mock Trial Lessons
This literature based mock trial format provides a dynamic interactive opportunity for K-8 students to develop higher-level thinking skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. judicial system and constitutional principles. The Rendell Center’s Mock Trial framework is easy to follow, and its lesson plans – based on classic or classroom pieces of literature – provide teachers with the tools and guidance needed to help their class write and argue a mock trial, and actively take on the roles of defendant, lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and court officials.
Hispanic and Latino Heritage and History in the United States
Since 1988, the U.S. Government has set aside the period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month to honor the many contributions Hispanic Americans have made and continue to make to the United States of America. Our Teacher’s Guide brings together resources created during NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes, lesson plans for K-12 classrooms, and think pieces on events and experiences across Hispanic history and heritage.
Civic Art Project: From Her Beacon
Students will work collaboratively to create a mural of the Statue of Liberty to show the statue as a representation of freedom and a symbol of welcome to immigrants coming from other countries. This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students will read a poem and incorporate some of its ideas into their mural. Elementary and middle school students will incorporate words and phrases inspired by the statue into their mural. This activity supports Art, Social Studies, Civics, and English Language Arts standards and can be used as a cross-curricular project across these classrooms. Teachers across the curricula are encouraged to work together to bring this activity to life.
Making the Constitution (CKHG Unit)
Students who listen to this Grade 2 Core Knowledge History and Geography unit discover that Americans had a difficult task at hand after winning the Revolutionary War: they had to figure out a better way to govern themselves. Such leaders as James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin traveled to Philadelphia to meet at the Constitutional Convention, with the goal of creating a new government. Students learn that the talks were held in secret in Independence Hall and that American leaders argued about many issues until they agreed to approve a new Constitution. They then hear that James Madison (whom we call the Father of the Constitution), along with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, wrote the Federalist Papers to explain the document’s merits and to persuade the states to vote for it. Students find out that the states did finally approve the Constitution; that Madison wrote a Bill of Rights that was added to it; that the Constitution gives the American people the right to decide what the laws should be for our country; and that we can still amend it today.(5 lessons)
Stars and Stripes Forever: Flag Facts for Flag Day
Students will learn what a symbol is and how this particular symbol—the American flag—is an important part of our everyday lives. Learning the history of the flag will help instill in students respect for our national symbol and help them learn appropriate etiquette regarding our flag. Students will learn that other symbols of our country, such as the president and certain holidays, like Flag Day, are important to us as well. Students can also contribute symbols from their familial, ethnic and national cultures to show the diversity of American society and its links to other parts of the world.
Activity: Flat George Washington
A cut-and-color activity sheet that encourages students to find George Washington in their school or community.
Preamble of the Constitution Activity Sheet
Students can use this activity sheet to draw ideas about what different phrases and words in the Preamble mean.
Constitution Day Writing Prompts – K-3
September 17 is Constitution Day! We have created different writing prompts along with the writing space for students. These writing prompts can be used as individual assignments, at writing stations, or even for group discussions!