Constitution Activities for Middle School
Though the Constitution is a monumental document and an important part of the nation’s history, teaching it to middle school children often seems futile because they are seldom able to focus on the intricacies of the document for long. Playing some games will keep their interest while you are teaching the Constitution.
1 Recital Race
Have the students memorize the Preamble for the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.”
Then have the students recite it quickly and accurately against one another in duels. This can be turned into a tournament that the children will enjoy and will also cement the Preamble in their minds.
2 In Their Own Words
Have the students take a copy of the Constitution home. Tell them to work on writing one or more sections of the document in their own words, which they will then recite in class the next day. This will help the students learn what one or more sections mean, and it will help the other students better understand it by hearing it in the words of someone on their level.
3 Creating a New Amendment
Have the students brainstorm together and come up with an amendment that they think would improve the Constitution. Have them do it in Congressional Convention format, in which they each get a vote on a set of possible amendments. Have each student come up with one and winnow them by vote to the top five or so. Then, give the students one or two days to petition one another to get one of the amendments voted in. The person who writes the winning amendment gets a prize. This will help motivate the students to push their amendment.
4 Constitution Trivia
Split the class into four groups. Then present questions about the Constitution and have each group come up with answer. Draw some questions from classroom lectures, some from reading assignments, and some from resources to which the students may not have had access. Tally the correct answers by each group to keep the game competitive.