It’s gotta be the ones that burst out and crackle as they die away. I love fireworks, I love parades, and as a US History teacher, I love the 4th of July, or as I really call it, Independence Day. Who doesn’t like to show their patriotism in celebration of the passing of a resolution to break away from England?
But let me introduce those patriotic readers among us to yet another really important day celebrating this great country- Constitution Day! Constitution Day is celebrated every September 17th – “by whom?” you might ask. Well, by many classrooms across the nation, such as mine in the recent past.
The timing was always pretty spot on because we’d be closing down the colonial era and gearing up to discuss the various documents upon which the Constitution was modeled, so the celebration served as a teaser, if you will, getting them excited about what was to come (maybe not as excited as me, but still). My students would be tasked with picking a favorite quote from a signer of the Constitution, and then we would spend part of class sidewalk chalking those quotes around the school, along with celebratory phrases like “Happy Constitution Day” and “Yea Constitution” dotted with lots of hearts and flowers.
Truly it made my heart sing to see all these juniors getting physical with the words of our nation’s founders. Once we fully got to the study of the Constitution itself, we would learn about the anti-Federalists as well, and have debates about various points in the document. I could always count on the National Constitution Center to provide some engaging lesson plans. (It’s a great place to visit too because it has bronze replicas of all the founders that you can touch. Ben Franklin is seated, so you can sit in Ben Franklin’s lap! And of course I did!)
Though I wanted my students to have fun, I certainly needed them to have an emotional connection with the document so that they would take it seriously as young adults. Hopefully this translated into their taking voting seriously, and paying attention to the Constitution in the news. It’s hard to say, though I do have one former student who wishes me a Happy Constitution Day every year. So celebrate this Saturday- not just your freedom, but this amazing document that has survived longer than any other written constitution in the world! USA! USA!
PS- If you do nothing else to celebrate this day, make sure you take the Founder’s Quiz on the National Constitution Center’s website. I’m George Mason!