The observance of our National Constitution Day was very close to an event in our school where we were celebrating our state’s Bicentennial – specifically the signing of our state’s first constitution. We wanted to have an activity that would be memorable and meaningful for our kindergarten through fourth-grade students.
Naturally, we wanted to discuss with them the importance of the document – the first state constitution. We had secured a facsimile of the first constitution through a traveling backpack from the State Archives. From other sources, we had replicas of the signatures of the original signers of the documents.
We presented “the talk” about the Constitution at a grade-appropriate level making the analogy of its being like our classroom rules or the student or teacher handbook. We went on to explain that it gave all the information for the jobs that our state leaders had to carry out. We digressed then by personalizing our constitution to include the citizen aspect of the constitution. We asked questions of our students such as “who is a citizen?” “What does a good citizen do?” “Why are citizens important to carrying out the constitution?” Students begin to see that they were a very important part of the government process. They were excited and encouraged to be affirmed in knowing that some of their everyday good deeds were all part of being a good citizen.
The final part of this mini-learning session was letting students become a signer of the constitution by adding their name below the original signatures. Their signature indicated “my promise to be a good citizen of my state.” They signed with a quill (described in another blog), and then took their signed “constitutions” with them.
A copy of the student “constitution” follows in case you want to implement this activity in your classroom. Happy signing!