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The Constitution: A Second Grade Lesson

Core Theme to Which Lesson Relates:  American Revolution


Grade Level: 2


Estimated duration of lesson:  1 day

Content standards that the lesson fulfills and the relevant grade level indicators:  Ohio Social Studies Academic Content Standards -
Government  Grade 2:  2. Explain how a system of government provides order to a group such as a school or community and why government is necessary. 
Also: Ohio law mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on Constitution Day.

Primary Sources used: 
1.  Replicas of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
2.  Interactive photograph of signing of Constitution at: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/christy/ (This is a secondary source)
3.  Image of US Constitution on display at Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/thc1995013859/PP/


Summary of the lesson:  The law establishing Constitution Day was created in 2004. The act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day. Typically this requirement has often been fulfilled simply by having students read a Weekly Reader or Scholastic News issue about the Constitution. This lesson attempts to more fully engage students through use of primary and secondary source material. As a culminating activity, students create their own classroom “bill of rights.” At the on-set of this lesson, second grade students have little to no background knowledge of our US Constitution.


Instructional steps to implement the lesson:
1) Using the Document Analysis Worksheet for Primary Grades as a guide, view documents (Constitution, Bill of Rights) and discuss orally being sure students understand basic meaning of the documents.
2) Show the photograph of the signing of the Constitution. Using the mouse, scroll over the people in the picture and their names will appear. Match a few famous signatures on the Constitution to people in the painting. 
3) Show a picture of the original Constitution, on display, in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
4) Make the connection between the laws for how our country is set-up and classroom rules that were established at the beginning of the year.
5) Make the connection between rights as a US Citizen and rights in the school classroom.
6) Give students time to work with their table to think of classroom rights, and share with whole class to create a list of classroom rights.
7) Display Classroom Bill of Rights next to the classroom rules and US Constitution and Bill of Rights documents.


Materials needed by students: none, possibly paper and pencil for writing ideas for classroom rights. For extension (see below) – crayons, markers


Materials needed by teacher:  Constitution and Bill of Rights documents, websites as noted above. Document Analysis Worksheet for guide, chart paper

Assessment:  Informal assessment – students will understand the meaning of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. They will be able to identify classroom rights. (At the 2nd grade level, these concepts are not formally tested at this early point in the year.)


Extension:  Once the Classroom Rights are listed and posted, students could choose a right to illustrate and label. Drawings could be posted on the bulletin board.

Created by: Laura Chatfield (July 20, 2011)

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Document-based whole-class discussion is a classroom activity where students engage in the interpretation and reconciliation of multiple historical documents. Rather than a heated debate, the classroom dynamic resembles a deliberative seminar, where the teacher plays an active role in facilitating student participation.

You can download a detailed description, with handouts. Another teaching resource from your friends at teachinghistory.org

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