Our nation celebrates Constitution Day every year, usually on September 17th. This year it will be observed on this coming Monday, September 18th, because, you know, weekends. It’s also observed as Citizenship Day, which honors those who have become U.S. citizens.
What is Constitution Day? It’s a day to learn about the U.S. Constitution and to mark its signing anniversary at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Many of us already know the Preamble to the Constitution by heart, thanks to Schoolhouse Rock.
If you have kids in conventional schools, they might already have plans to celebrate this day. Otherwise, you can organize some activities yourself, either just with your kids, or with homeschool groups or other gaggles of children. There are plenty of activities available free on the internet. Here is a quick rundown of some of the best ones I’ve found.
iCivics is my go-to place for Civics lessons for our homeschooling. Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the site has a very thorough Civics curriculum, and they’re adding new things all the time. There are lesson plans, web quests, and plenty of informative and entertaining games. They even have one lesson plan specifically for Constitution Day. I urge you to check it out.
DocsTeach is a fantastic site put together by the National Archives and dedicated to teaching about history and government through the use of primary source documents. Their portal page centered around the U.S. Constitution takes you to places such as the National Archives site itself, their eBook about the Constitution, their course on iTunes U, and long lists of primary sources and activities centered around the Constitution.
As all of the important founding documents of the United States, including the Constitution, are kept safe by the National Archives, it makes sense that they’d have some useful resources for Constitution Day. On their site, they have a good list of activities including a U.S. Constitution workshop, a simulation of how members of the Constitutional Convention might have felt as they were working to craft a founding document, and much information about the process of creating the document, its ratification, and then its implementation. Since nothing in the government is efficient, they also have another separate page with plenty of interesting videos, learning resources, and articles. Be sure to check out all of the webpages. They also have a tidy list of other online resources for further study.
This branch of the nation’s Library of Congress details the history of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, along with providing handy references for documents from the legislative and executive branch relating to the holiday, along with journal articles. They also link to web resources such as the Bill of Rights Institute, Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention Broadsides Collection (you don’t want to miss this one), and Federalist Papers.
The Constitution Center has a countdown clock to the holiday, a must-see interactive Constitution that gives plenty of context for each section of the document, a quiz to find out which of the Founding Fathers you are, a naturalization test to see if you’d pass, and plenty of educational resources, such as their Constitutional Hall Pass video lessons and the ability to purchase pocket Constitutions and Constitution Day kits. You can also learn about visiting the Center in person.
This alliance of 26 government and nonprofit organizations has put together a site centered around learning about Civics. One of their pages includes Lesson Plans, Posters, Activities, and Games—as well as an image of the Preamble to the Constitution that you can put on T-shirts— that help you celebrate this holiday. Learn about the battle for the Bill of Rights or work on your own class (or family) constitution. They also have a good Constitution Day blog post with a few other resources.
This is a daily podcast that delivers minute-long soundbites to easily digest lessons about the government, Constitution, and the nation’s history. These are perfect to toss into your daily routine, or listen to a whole bunch of them on Constitution Day.
This no frills website has links to the Constitution itself, the Amendments to the Constitution, biographies of all of the Founding Fathers, and a gift shop.
How will you spend this Constitution Day and Citizenship Day? I’ll probably celebrate curled up with one of my favorite history books on the Constitution, reading out the best parts for my kids.