I noticed that Citizenship Day aka Constitution Day is coming up soon. Do you do anything special for that in your classroom?
I usually take a few days to teach my kids about the Constitution, why it was written, and what it means to be a citizen.
I read portions of a Scholastic book called The Constitution of the United States. This book goes a little too in-depth for second graders, in my opinion, but there are some parts of it that are really good for helping them understand the who, what, where, when, and why of the Constitution and have a shallow understanding of the process that helped it come into existence.
I also like to read and talk about the illustrations in We the Kids. This can kind of help the kids (especially little kids) understand some of those complicated words a little better.
We end our study on the actual Constitution Day with our own constitutional ‘congress.’ I assign different students as delegates from the 13 original colonies. I give groups of 3-4 students three or four sticky notes, and they decide on the behaviors that are most important to them in class. You know, what helps them be and do their best.
After the kids have had time to write an idea on each sticky note, we begin sorting all the sticky notes in the classroom. Usually, one of the popular ideas is to be nice or to be kind. The first 3 are usually common sentiments from each group, so the exciting part is on some of the less popular ideas.
Ah, the delegate from Virginia wishes to address the class...
I tell the kids we have to narrow this down to 5 ideas. We’re only going to put the best 5 ideas in our classroom constitution, so we have to discuss or debate as a class which ideas are most important for everyone to agree. Kids get to share and convince others as to why their idea is most important. In the end, we vote for which less common ideas will finish up our list of 5.
I usually have the constitution started on some brown paper or on some anchor chart paper. “We the people of room ___, in order make a better classroom, promise to…” Once the 5 ideas have been chosen and voted on, I add them to our constitution. “…in second grade at ___ Elementary.”
I bought some feather pens off Amazon. The kids take turns signing their name to our classroom constitution. This is one of those charts that stays up all year long.
If you have other fun, interactive ideas, I'd love to hear about them!