September 17 is Constitution Day (formerly known as Citizenship Day, until it was changed in 2004). It is a federal requirement that all schools receiving federal funds teach something about the Constitution on this day. If you’re like many teachers, you get an email reminder from your principal the day before and have to throw something together quickly to make sure you don’t violate federal law! This year we’ve got you covered. Since there are 27 amendments, here are 27 fun and meaningful ways you and your students can recognize Constitution Day.
1. Host a mock Constitutional Convention.
How was the Constitution created? Students love simulations! Have them take on different roles and create their own compromises.
2. Write your own constitution.
How would you create a country from scratch? Have students form a government with their own rights and rules.
3. Look at preambles from around the world.
How has the US Constitution influenced other countries? Check out these preambles and have students fill out a Venn diagram comparing a country of their choice to the United States. Want to go even deeper? Check out all of the constitutions in the world!
4. Study the Iroquois Constitution.
Did the Constitution’s democratic ideas came from the Iroquois, as some historians have suggested? Have students study the evidence and decide for themselves.
5. Do some Hamilton Karaoke.
“Legacy! What is a legacy?” This one is mostly fun, but that’s okay. Kids and adults love the hit musical, and it has definitely increased interest in history. Blast it out during lunch or passing time and invite kids to sing along.
6. Watch the Crash Course on the US Constitution.
How was the Constitution a response to the Articles of Confederation? Watch John Green explain the background of how the Constitution was created. Students can chart how the Constitution fixed the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
7. Color the Constitution.
Kids color these printable coloring pages that depict items from this time period.
8. Act out the Bill of Rights.
Where do our rights come from? As a class decide which of the first ten amendments is the most important today and perform a skit about it.
9. Play these online Constitution games.
Students can help restore the Bill of Rights or play one of three other online games for grades 2–12.
10. Watch Hip Hughes explain the Bill of Rights.
Watch the Bill of Rights Hand Game and practice memorizing the first 10 amendments.
11.Create a Founding Father hat craft.
Kids can create paper tricorne hats to look just like the Founding Fathers!
12. Show Schoolhouse Rock’s The Constitution or “I’m Just a Bill.”
Go old school! Even high school students like to talk about their favorite cartoons. So share this classic with them. Follow up by having students write their own Constitution-inspired song or poem.
13. Discuss failed amendments.
Have students look at failed amendments, such as the Child Labor Amendment or the Equal Rights Amendment. Then have them discuss whether these amendments should be passed.
14. Propose a new Constitutional amendment.
What’s missing? Have students propose additional amendments that they think should be added to the Constitution, such as a balanced budget or eliminating term limits. Then have them design propaganda posters to convince their state to ratify it.
15. Eliminate a Constitutional amendment.
Task students with eliminating one amendment from the Bill of Rights. Which one? Why? Make a convincing argument.
16. Hold a debate about James Madison.
Is Madison the most underrated president in history? Have students debate the Father of the Constitution’s legacy.
17. Take a citizenship test.
After taking the test, students can decide what questions would they add or delete. Discuss whether or not they think a test for citizenship is necessary.
18. Invite a guest speaker into your class.
Invite a federal judge or someone who is a naturalized citizen to talk about the citizenship process.
19. Determine the best way to interpret the Constitution.
What is the correct way to interpret a 200-year-old document today? Students could apply the two approaches as a way to engage with current events.
20. Explore landmark Supreme Court cases.
What are some of the most important decisions made by the Supreme Court? How has the Supreme Court changed its interpretation of the Constitution over time?
21. Play Bill of Rights BINGO!
Here’s a spin on the classic BINGO game younger kids will love while learning important terms from the Bill of Rights.
22. Watch ConstitutionHall Pass Videos.
Check out the more than two dozen videos about a variety of aspects of the Constitution. The “Classroom Discussion Starter” ones have questions that go along with them.
23.Debate the Electoral College.
Have students discuss the Electoral College and debate whether it should be eliminated.
24. Discuss the branches of government.
Have students discuss which branch they think is the strongest. Has that always been the case? Make sure students provide evidence to prove support their claim
25. Learn your Constitutional rights on this fun site.
What are the rights of citizens? Explore this site for lessons on rights, games, and simulations.
26. Take a peek at the Newseum.
Primary sources and case studies from many angles tied to the Constitution.
27. Explore the Constitution by grade level.
Check out different versions of the Constitution for different grade levels.
Whatever you choose to do with your class on Constitution Day, have fun and help your students see the importance and wonder found in this document that started it all.
What are some of your favorite lessons to do on Constitution Day? Share your ideas in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out our favorite websites for social studies teachers.