Article V of the Constitution says how the Constitution can be amended; that is, how provisions can be added to the text of the Constitution. The Constitution is not easy to amend: Only 27 amendments have been added to the Constitution since it was adopted. Discover how the amendment process works in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.
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)
Constitution: Analyze – Explore – Music
Students will engage in a study of the Constitution to learn about the nature and structure of the United States. The Constitution will be analyzed and discussed as a primary source to understand the form of government and principles of the U.S. This lesson provides students an opportunity to explore how the government works and what the Constitution means to them today. Students will create a song to demonstrate understanding of the Constitution and nature of the U.S. government. Constituting America has a song contest teachers may want to integrate with this lesson plan.
Civic Art Project: Notes on the Constitution
Students create art works based on an examination of the language of the Constitution and the personal connections they make. These art works will incorporate words, illustrations, and mixed media images.
This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students can use an abridged version of the U.S. Constitution. Elementary and middle school students can use the Preamble, or introduction, to the Constitution.
Founding Documents: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers Podcast
Ten days after the Constitution was signed at the Old Philadelphia State House, an anonymous op-ed appeared in the New York Journal. Signed by “”Cato,” it cautioned readers of the new Constitution to take it with a grain of salt. Even the wisest of men, it warned, can make mistakes. This launched a public debate that would last months, pitting pro-Constitution Federalists against Constitution-wary Anti-Federalists. It was a battle for ratification, and it resulted in a glimpse into the minds of our Framers – and a concession that would come to define American identity.
Our guides through the minds of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists are Claire Griffin and Cheryl Cook-Kallio.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.
C-SPAN’s Constitution Clips makes the U.S. Constitution come alive by providing teachers and students with video clips from C-SPAN’s Video Library of the Constitution in action.
Constitutional Conversations and Civil Dialogue
As you read, interpret, and cite the Constitution, it’s important to think about how the Constitution defines or limits the power of the government. That’s how constitutional scholars and judges read, interpret, and cite the Constitution! Check out our Civil Dialogue Toolkit in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.
Discover the documents at the bedrock of our nation’s founding and understand the fundamental ideas from each of the documents, and the major principles of the U.S. Constitution. Primary sources include the Declaration of Independence, Articles of the Confederation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Federalist papers (#51, #70, #78), Brutus #1, and the amazing Letter from the Birmingham City Jail. Check out the National Constitution Center’s learning module for more resources!
We the People Open Course
This course takes you from the philosophical foundations of the U.S. Constitution through the modern interpretation and application of its ideals. You will find videos of noted scholars explaining key aspects of the Constitution and online exercises to check for understanding. The course follows the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution Level 3 (high school) textbook, which has been used throughout the country to further understanding of our government and its fundamental principles.
The American Constitution In Emoji
Emojis are taking over the world, and the U.S. Constitution is no exception. Kevin McCraney is the We the Future Contest’s winner for Best Grad School Short Film. He gives us positive and negative aspects of the Constitution. He also asks: “Should robots participate in our society with the same rights as people?” Kevin’s use of emojis and his intriguing questions will keep your students’ attention and generate more discussion than one class period allows.