The Constitution — The Country's Rules


This lesson plan is targeted to first and second graders to help them develop an awareness of the Constitution. Presenters are guided to help students examine their own classroom's rules poster (not provided) as an introduction to the concept of the rule of law.  Students will compare those rules to the the law of the United States as laid out in the U.S. Constitution. 

This resource aims to help a younger demographic understand the meaning of the Constitution and uses a real-life scenario to help establish meaning. 

How do you use it?

The lesson plan is geared to teachers, but could be adapted for judges or other presenters.  

This lesson plan incorporates the entire class doing something together; the resource is both informative and interactive. To primary school students, the Constitution may appear to be something irrelevant to their own lives and too complex to understand. This lesson plan provides students a real context for the Constitution and its purpose by directly relating it to classroom rules.  It aims to make the "law of the land" relevant through comparing the Constitution to the "law" of the classroom.   

One aspect of the lesson plan teaches the students about the three branches of government by having them make necklaces on which they can string pretzels that they cover with glue and red, white or blue glitter — color-coded to the three branches.  

The only preparation necessary is to decide who is going to be responsible for the supplies for the art project.  Public Schools have very limited funds so the presenter needs to be prepared to at least bring the pretzels (bonus - students can eat what isn't glued).

Judges may prefer to find another less messy way to communicate the idea of how each branch of government contributes to law making in the United States, than by using glue and glitter.   

Because of the art component of this lesson, this resource is perhaps best suited to judges who like to have hands-on reinforcement of their lessons.  The lesson plan can be undertaken without the necklace-making as reinforcement, however.

Who is the audience?

This resource is informative and educational, and tailored toward the strengths of children at an early primary level.  Even young students can learn that the rules they have to follow in their school have counterparts in the Constitution.  The art component can be a fun way to reinforce a not-fun lesson about rules.

What other resources will complement this?

  1. Amazing Amendments  Document from (P, M) 
  2. Argument Wars  Game from iCivics (H)
  3. Constitution Day Rap  Lesson Plan from the Center for Civic Education (P) 
  4. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office (P, M, H)
  5. Matching Game with the Constitution  Lesson Plan from the Center for Civic Education (P)
  6. U.S. Constitution Fact Sheet  Document from (M)  
  7. What Basic Ideas Are In the Preamble to the Constitution?  Lesson Plan from the Center for Civic Education (P)

Additional Recommended Resources | Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.