Preamble, Articles, and Amendments, oh my! To be honest, I used to dread teaching my 3rd graders about the U.S. Constitution. Have you felt the same way? There aren’t a lot of resources available for elementary kids and it’s just a tough topic for younger kids. It took some time for me to make this unit kid friendly, but I am so glad I did! Here are some resources you can use each for teaching the Constitution.
Books for Teaching the Constitution:
We the Kids is a great book for kids. The entire book is the Preamble of the Constitution. There is one phrase on each page with bright, colorful graphics. Reading this book is a great way to break down each phrase of the Preamble for younger kids. My students love the pictures and they recognize the artwork of this famous illustrator.
The Constitution of the United States is a 48 page book with lots of colorful graphics. This book includes the history behind the U.S. Constitution plus a brief description of the parts of our constitution. It's written for grades 3-5, so the language is easy for elementary kids to understand.
Our Constitution Rocks is an amazing find! This book is one of the best guides I have seen for younger audiences and it was written by a teenager. It is a thorough guide to the U.S. Constitution. This is a great resource for kids in junior high on up (or elementary teachers who need a little extra background).
Since I had trouble finding Constitution resources appropriate for my class, I created my own. These days I’m feeling much more comfortable teaching this tricky topic. These activities made a huge impact on my students' understanding of the U.S. Constitution.
Elementary students usually have trouble comprehending the Preamble so I created these sorting cards to give them practice making sense of the unfamiliar language. These cards have 2 parts. The first set is blue and it contains the Preamble broken down into smaller chunks. The red set has the Preamble rewritten in simplified language that is easier for elementary students to understand.
The first sorting activity my students do is use the blue set of cards and simply put the phrases of the Preamble in order. I do this after we have read and discussed the Preamble with the books listed above. I like to see who can construct the Preamble without any help. My students usually have difficulty doing this on their own, but I like giving them the opportunity to work through it.
Once the Preamble has been put in order, I have students work in small groups to match the Preamble phrases to their meanings. I try to give my students multiple experiences with this sort so that they become more and more comfortable with the Preamble. These Preamble cards are a free download in my TpT store.
I love teaching my class through guided note-taking. Note-taking can be super boring, so I like to make it more engaging by putting the notes in a lap book. This lap book includes a basic overview of the 3 parts of the U.S. Constitution. This project takes up most of the week, but it is well worth the time spent. You can find this lap book here.
Teaching the Constitution to elementary-age children may seem daunting, but there are many ways you can do it, including books, using matching cards, and creating lap books with your class. I no longer dread this unit and this helps you as well!
What’s your go-to resource for teaching the Constitution?