by Katie Julius
After a month-long Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia, the United States Constitution was drafted and then signed by 39 men on September 17, 1787. A compromise between the New Jersey and Virginia Plans, the United States Constitution was ratified by the states on June 21, 1788 and has been the law of the country for more than 225 years.
Constitution Day, celebrated on September 17 each year, commemorates the signing of the Constitution. What better time to do a unit study as a family to learn more about this very important document?
Independence Hall Field Trip
If you’re making plans to visit the East Coast, Independence Hall, part of Independence National Historical Park, in Philadelphia is a must-stop location in your itinerary as you become immersed in the history that happened in that building and surrounding areas. However, if a trip back East isn’t possible, you can visit a replica in Buena Park! Yep, Walter Knott built an exact replica of the real one just outside of Knott’s Berry Farm. Admission is free (though you’ll need to pay for parking).
Learn About the Delegates
While only 39 signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787, 55 men from 12 colonies were delegates to the Constitutional Convention and had a hand in drafting the document that would shape the future of our country. Pick one to learn more about. Read a biography about him. Did he sign the Constitution? Why or why not? Was he one of the six who also signed the Declaration of Independence? Come up with a creative way to share your findings with your family or homeschool community.
Read the Constitution
This might be a tough one for little ones, but done in pieces, it’s not too bad. It’s important for kids of all ages to understand what is written in the Constitution, now more than ever. Find a resource that explains what the words mean (great vocab lesson!) or provides a side-by-side in today’s language.
Memorize the Preamble
If you were a kid in the 80s and 90s, no doubt you remember the Schoolhouse Rock! video with the song to learn the Preamble. Thanks to modern technology, you can find it on YouTube, so cue it up and listen and sing along as you teach the next generation.
Bill of Rights
The original 10 amendments to the Constitution exist, in large part, as the compromise between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. This great video from an educational YouTube channel explains how this happened as well as what each of the 10 rights mean through a fun and catchy song.
Research how the Constitution can be amended and what amendments have been made. What’s the most recent amendment and when was it added? Then, have each of your kids come up with their own amendment to the Constitution. Have them present their amendment and explain to family or friends why it should be added. Then, have everyone vote on each of the ideas. Were your amendments ratified?
Sign the Constitution
You can become a signer of the Constitution. Print out a copy of the Constitution. Get a craft feather from a craft store (the more full, the better) and cut the tip to be angled. Make “ink” with watered down black paint. Then, sign away! Be sure to talk about whether or not you would have signed if you were part of the Constitutional Convention back in 1787!
There are an abundance of resources available online to study and learn about the Constitution, what it means, and how we see it at work in our country today. We’ve shared a handful of those resources below:
We hope you enjoy learning about this document and its importance in our country. Share with us how you celebrated Constitution Day!