Federal law passed in 2004 requires that all schools that receive federal
funding provide a course to all students on the Constitution on Constitution
Day, September 17. The law is known as H.R. 4818, and the text is found at
Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a
fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution
on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational
This law does not distinguish between elementary, secondary, or college-level
institutions, so it must be interpreted to apply to all levels. This page offers
several suggestions for how the very broad subject of "The Constitution" can be
taught for high-school level students (as well as printables for younger students). Teachers at other levels can
use the suggestions as a basis for lesson plans for younger or older students.
Also, the law does not specify what the "educational program" should consist of.
This provides a lot of leeway in your presentation.
The following pages on this site may be useful for various grade levels:
Younger Student Suggestions
Understand the concepts embodied in the Constitution
Depending on the class level, the actual Constitution itself may be too advanced.
Using the Constitution for Kids Page or any one
of a number of books likely available in your library, you can introduce the
... If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution by
Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
The U.S. Constitution and You by Syl Sobel
If you have access to video equipment, Schoolhouse Rock has several
Suggested discussion questions
What is voting? Talk about voting in everyday life: making a choice in the
lunch room is a form of voting, for yourself. What if there was a vote for
what to have for lunch? What if pizza always won, would that be fair to those
who vote for chicken? How could the chicken voters influence some of the
pizza voters to switch?
What is a state, and what is a country? What if the United States were
actually 50 different countries? How would it be if you had to have a passport
to travel to a neighboring state? What if people from other states had to pay
a fee to eat in the restaurants in your town? What if another country attacked
a neighboring state? What are the advantages of being a part of a larger
country? What are the advantages of being a part of a state?
What is slavery? What is it about skin color that made it so white people
held black people as slaves? Could eye color be used instead of skin color,
or hair color, or height? Would it be fair if blue-eyed people had to do all
the work and brown-eyed people got to tell The Blues what to do? Why was it
important that skin color be no different than eye color in terms of how
people are treated?
Why is there a difference in how the House and Senate seats are divided
up? If House seats were divided by state size, rather than state population,
what states would have the most seats? Which would have the least? Do these
list match the actual seat counts at all?
Why was it important to compromise when making the Constitution? Small
states wanted all states to have the same number of representatives; large
states wanted the seat count based on population. Explain why each group
wanted what it did. How did the Framers compromise on this issue?
List some of the individual rights: speech, religion, assembly, etc. Is
there any right which is more important than the others? Why? Is there any
right that is less important? Why? It has been found that school newspapers
can be censored or edited by the schools - is this fair to students? Why is
it a good idea, or a bad idea, for school papers to be edited or
What is "separation of powers"? Why is it important that no one person or
group hold too much power? Explain the relationship between Britain and the
colonies - does this explain why the United States Constitution ensures that
power is spread out over the three branches? Does any branch have too much
power? Should any branch have more power?
Social Studies/History Suggestion 1
Read and understand the Constitution
Note the use of British spellings in the original Constitution. Why were
these spellings so prolific?
Note any words that are capitalized in the text of the original
Constitution. Is there a pattern to which words were capitalized? If so,
what is it?
Click on an image to get an image suitable for printing. PDF files are also
available. These pages make great learning tools for kids in the preschool
through 2nd grade ages. These images can be copied as many times as needed, for
the People - the famous first three words of the Preamble of the Constitution. (Be sure to print in Landscape orientation!) (PDF)
This is the chair back that George
Washington sat in as President of the Convention. Benjamin Franklin remarked
that until the Constitution was completed, he was unsure if the sun was rising
or setting, but he was then convinced it was surely rising. (Be sure to print in Landscape orientation!) (PDF)
The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., where the Congress meets. (Be sure to print in Landscape orientation!) (PDF)
The White House in Washington, D.C.,
where the President works and resides. (Be sure to print in Landscape orientation!) (PDF)
Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., where the Supreme Court meets and
hears cases. (Be sure to print in Landscape orientation!) (PDF)
Word Find puzzles
The word find puzzles below can be freely copied for use in the