How the Constitution was made and adopted.
- Learn who the delegates from New York were who “got mad” and went home (Hamilton was not one of them).
- Learn more about others who did not sign and their reasons.
- Take a look down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol today and compare to the photo in the book on pg. 18.
- Where did we get the phrase “of the people, by the people, and for the people“?
- View the State, War, and Navy Building (now known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building).
- Learn more about the State, War, and Navy Building mentioned in the book. (The New State Building has been used since 1947.)
- And the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as it is now known.
- The Constitution is now housed in the National Archives Building.
- View the original Constitution.
- Read more about the storing/fading of the Declaration of Independence and view the original.
- James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution” because so many of his ideas were included. However, the final document was a product of all of the framers.
- You can read Constitutional History of the United States by Curtis if you wish, though “dry-as-dust” is a fair description here.
- View the page of the Constitution with the names of the signers.
- Learn more about Alexander Hamilton.
- Learn who Clay, Calhoun, and Webster along with Sumner were and why they were considered “great men.”
- Learn more about Benjamin Franklin and his contribution to the Constitution.
- At the time the book was written, there were 15 amendments to the Constitution. How many are there today? What are they? Create a list.
- There are many Latin phrases used throughout the book. Make a list of the phrases used and their meanings. Include ab ovo.
- View a map of the old State, War, and Navy Building (Eisenhower Executive Office Building) and it’s location relative to Lafayette Square and the White House.
- Brush up on the Magna Carta.
- Copy the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
- Memorize the Preamble to the Constitution. Sometimes putting things to music helps (see Schoolhouse Rock video below).
- Create a flip book showing the three branches of government. Include a brief explanation of what each branch does.
- Learn more about the George Washington Inaugural Bible shown on pg. 30 of the book.
Learn more about the Constitution from The Book of Knowledge:
From the beginning the different and often conflicting interests of the states made it hard to decide many of the questions that arose….
[The] delegates disputed about the powers that the Congress was to have. Some did not want a strong central government; others wished a monarchy, or something very much like it….
There were many other matters on which the delegates from the different states found it hard to agree. In the end, however, these disputed points were settled, and after four months of discussion, the Constitution was adopted and sent by Congress to the states to be voted upon. The Convention had decided that the new government would begin when nine states had ratified, that is, agreed to accept, the Constitution. Any states that refused to join this majority were to be left out….
…[The] most remarkable thing about [the Constitution] is the fact that men with conflicting interests and needs were willing to compromise with one another; each sacrificing something in order to benefit everyone. It is such a spirit of compromise that makes democracy really work.
It is said that Benjamin Franklin, when the Convention ended, pointed to a picture of the sun in the hall and said: “As I have been sitting here all these weeks, I have often wondered whether yonder sun is rising or setting. But now I know that it is a rising sun.”
“Building the New Nation” from The Book of Knowledge
Constitution Day: A Unit Study
Many resources including further background information in our free unit.
7 Things You May Not Know about the Constitutional Convention
From the History Channel.
“The Signing of the Constitution”
Explore this painting to learn more about the signers.
State, War and Navy Building
Images and info.
Tour the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
The location of the Constitution mentioned in the book.
A Short History of the National Archives Building
And more about the newest location of the Constitution.
Which Founder Are You?
Take this interactive quiz to find out! (requires flash)
That’s Your Right
Great interactive from Annenberg Classroom to familiarize students with the content of the Bill of Rights.
The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)
A More Perfect Union by Betsy Maestro
An accurate historical summary of how our Constitution was framed along with a timeline and summary of the Articles.
We the People: The Story of Our Constitution by Lynne Cheney
Beautifully illustrated retelling from the author of America: A Patriotic Primer, covering the issues that were addressed in the forming of the Constitution.
Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
We have really enjoyed using the Jean Fritz series of books as an introductory starting place to a topic. This one is illustrated by Tomie dePaola.
Units & Lesson Plans
Thinking as a Founding Father
Lesson plan from the National Constitution Center.
James Madison: A Unit Study
Known as the Father of the Constitution.
National Archives Visitor’s Guide
Nice download that includes information about the Constitution.
Printable Constitution Poster
Free download from The National Constitution Center.