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Constitution Day Learning Activity

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Students will review the U.S. Constitution and understand its relevance today
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(CNN Student News) -- Use this activity to help your students review the U.S. Constitution and understand its relevance today.

Generate a class discussion to determine what students know about the U.S. Constitution. Conduct class research, if necessary, to enable students to answer the following questions:

• What was the first governing document for the young United States?

• Why did many Americans want the Articles of Confederation replaced?

• Who were the members of the Constitutional Convention?

• Where and under what conditions did the Convention meet?

• What challenges did the framers of the Constitution face in crafting a document that would be ratified by the thirteen states?

• As delegates were considering how the new government would look, what opposing views surfaced about the size of government, representation and other issues? How were these issues addressed in the Constitution?

Next, review the text of the U.S. Constitution, including its 27 Amendments. You can read the text as a class or assign portions of the document to different groups of students and have them briefly summarize each section that they were assigned.

Divide the class into groups. Direct each group to find a current news story that is an illustration of some aspect of the U.S. Constitution. For example, a story about a protest demonstrates the First Amendment. A story about upcoming congressional elections is an illustration of Article I. Have groups determine the connections between their chosen stories and the Constitution, and then share their findings with the class.

Once all groups have presented their information, point out to students that, although it was created in 1787, the Constitution is more than an historic document: It is the basis of the laws and civil liberties that affect all of us today.

Conclude with a discussion about the Constitution in modern times. Ask students: What elements of the Constitution do you think have allowed it to survive the test of time and become the oldest written constitution still in effect?

Related Resources

• Constitution of the United States
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html

• The Constitution Center: Constitution Day
http://www.constitutioncenter.org/ncc_progs_Constitution_Day.aspx

• Center for Civic Education
http://new.civiced.org/

• CNN.com
http://www.cnn.com/

Social Studies Standards

V. Individuals, Groups and Institutions

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups and institutions.

VI. Power, Authority and Governance

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.

X. Civic Ideals and Practices

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (http://www.socialstudies.org/standards) are published by the National Council for Social Studies (http://www.socialstudies.org/).