I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
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This is the 13th lesson in a series of 27 hands-on lessons covering American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on the Constitution. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Each lesson includes a biography report, history notebook page, history song, our favorite children's books, YouTube video, a joke, & a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!
Student Biography Presentation: James Madison
1. Welcome everyone back from Winter Break & ask each child to share something nice that they did or got over the break.
2. Student biography presentation on James Madison
The Need for Rules
3. Before the break we learned that America had to fight a war for 8 years in order to win its independence from England. Now they needed to come up with rules for the country.
- What is a rule you have in your home?
- Why do your parents make up rules?
- Can you think of a rule we have in our country?
- Why do you think the government makes rules?
- A rule or law is a guideline that helps people live safely and considerately together.
4. Read Writing the U.S. Constitution (Our American Story) by Lori Mortensen.
You will need:
- Writing the U.S. Constitution (Our American Story) by Lori Mortensen or other book on the U.S. Constitution
5. Show a copy of the Constitution. Tell the children that the beginning is called the Preamble, & it explains why they are writing the constitution.
You will need:
- a copy of the Constitution (a paper copy or a picture in a book or from the Internet)
6. Learn the Preamble using a song, singing through it a few times. Do note that the SchoolHouse Rock song leaves out "of the United States" after "We the people," so we quickly added that in each time. You can either show the video from a monitor, or flip through We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow each time you sing the Preamble.
You will need:
- We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow or We the People: The Constitution of the United States by Peter Spier (which also has words to illustrate the text of the Preamble -- though the pictures are smaller) OR a monitor or projector to show the SchoolHouse Rock video
SchoolHouse Rock Preamble Song
The Great Compromise
7. One of the biggest issues discussed while creating the Constitution was determining how many votes each state would get when making laws.
- Ask, "Next week should we have cupcakes, brownies, or cookies?" Each student should go to a different corner of the room based on what they want. (If the groups are all equal, join one of the groups.)
- Now, let's take a vote. Each group gets one vote. Who thinks we should have cupcakes? brownies? cakes?
- Well, we had a tie. I guess we might not get to have any of those.
- Do you think this is a fair way for us to vote? Do you think it's fair that the cupcake group only got 1 vote even though they have 6 people even though the brownie group gets the same 1 vote and there is only 1 person in that group?
- That was an issue when our Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution. The smaller states, like New Jersey, said that everyone should get 1 vote.
- Let's look again at the map of the 13 Colonies, now the 13 States. Which states are large? Which states are tiny?
- The bigger states, like Virgina, said you should get votes based on how many people lived in your state. Bigger states would get more votes and smaller states would get fewer votes.
- Do you think the smaller states liked that? They didn't! Who has older brothers and sisters? How would you feel if they always got to decide what games you played and where you went for fun and your parents never agreed to do what you wanted to do? You wouldn't like it, would you?
- The Founding Fathers created the Great Compromise. They said they'd make 2 law-making/legislative groups.
- All states have the same number of votes in the Senate. Big states like New York get 2 votes. Small states like Rhode Island get 2 votes. Every single state has 2 votes, whether they have lots of people or only a few people.
- In the House of Representatives, different states get a different number of votes. Bigger states get more votes. Smaller states get fewer votes. New York gets 27 votes. Delaware gets 1 vote.
Founding Fathers & Review
8. When the men, including James Madison, who made up the rules for our country are called our Founding Fathers.
- Our Founding Fathers spent lots of time praying and trying to apply what is said in the Bible when they created our government & the rules for our country.
- What does the Bible say about the government? In 1 Peter 2:13-14 it says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."
- Are we supposed to obey those in authority over us? (Yes)
- Who heard the 2 purposes of government as laid out in those Bible verses? (punish those who do wrong & commend those who do right)
9. After our Founding Fathers agreed on how the government should be run, representatives from each state had to sign it. Show Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States & hand out the coloring sheet. Have children color the main figures (numbers 1 -4) on their coloring sheet while going through them on the bigger painting or picture. Have the children put this in their History Notebook.
You will need:
- Copy of Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States (from a book or online)
- This coloring sheet of Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States punched with a 3 hold punch
- Student supplies: Crayons
10. Review: What is the document we learned about today that tells the rules for how America's government will run? (Constitution) Who is called the "Father of the Constitution"? (James Madison) What do we call the first part of the Constitution? (Preamble) Let's sing it one last time. [Sing it again while flipping through the book.]
11. Assign next week's student biography on Alexander Hamilton.
In addition to the 3 books mentioned or used in the lesson, these were our favorites:
- Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation by Jacqueline Jules
- A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro
- Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
- The Creation of the U.S. Constitution (Graphic History) by Michael Burgan
- Constitution Construction (Chester the Crab's Comics with Content Series) by Bentley Boyd
- The U.S. Constitution (American Symbols) by Norman Pearl
- We the People: The Story of Our Constitution by Lynne Cheney
Liberty Kids: We the People
Native Americans & Columbus Lesson
Thirteen Colonies Lesson
French and Indian War Lesson
Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings Lesson
Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party Lesson
First Shots & Declaration of Independence Lesson
American War for Independence Battles Lesson
Valley Forge & Battle of Yorktown Lesson
American Literature Lesson & American War for Independence Review
Colonial Christmas Party
Three Branches of Government Lesson
President George Washington Lesson
Louisiana Purchase Lesson
War of 1812 Lesson
Monroe Doctrine Lesson
Trail of Tears Lesson
Oregon Trail & Battle of Alamo Lesson
California Gold Rush & Pony Express Lesson
American Industrial Revolution Lesson
Underground Railroad Lesson
Abolitionists & Women Suffragists Lesson
Civil War: The Confederate States & Abraham Lincoln Lesson
Civil War Battles Lesson
Civil War Party & End of Year Review Game
Fun, Free Hands-on Unit Studies (My Lessons in All Subjects)
© 2018 Shannon
Shannon (author) from Florida on August 01, 2018:
Liz Westwood from UK on August 01, 2018:
Another fascinating article in a great series.