The introduction to the U.S. Constitution is called the preamble. It was written by our founding fathers to detail the reasons for creating a democratic government. Students are often required to commit the preamble to memory. Memorizing the preamble can quickly be achieved using a few simple techniques.
Comprehend the Language
Memorizing a random grouping of words is much more difficult than text that makes sense and has flow. The preamble was written in 1787. Much has changed in our English language since that time. Read through the preamble with your students and discuss the phrasing. For example, "Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" may need clarification. Explain to students this phrase explains the Constitution is meant to give freedom to citizens as well as all future American citizens. Discuss and check for students' comprehension of the preamble language.
Chunk the Middle Section
The middle portion of the preamble consists of action verbs. Make a vertical list of the verbs and their subjects as follows:
insure domestic tranquility
provide for the common defense
promote the general welfare
secure the blessings of liberty
Memorize these action phrases in chunks.
Build a Mental Image
Help your students create a mental image of the list of actions in the middle of the preamble. The images should make sense and preferably come from your students' own experiences. Each image should connect to the next image. For example, the phrase "establish justice" could conjure an image of a group of people setting down a large book entitled "Justice." Once the book is set down, they climb on top with their fingers to their lips to say "shhh" and depict the phrase "insure domestic tranquility." "Provide for the common defense" could be represented by all the people on the book being approached by a group of wolves and scaring the wolves by blaring horns. Feel free to allow your students' to get creative, if not silly.
Recite and Practice
Partner your students together. One student should hold the words of the preamble and the other can recite as much as she can remember. When she can no longer correctly remember more words, her partner can prompt her memory with a cue word. Allow students several minutes to add more words to their memory before the partners switch roles.
Set to Music
Musical melodies make sense to the human brain. Many people easily get a melody and lyrics "stuck in their heads." By assigning the words of the preamble to a melody, students can repeat the song in their minds and sing the words to the preamble. After committing the song to memory, students will have an easier time memorizing the words of the preamble.
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