What better way to engage with the constitution than through a simple, moving and thought provoking song? Here are constitution lesson plans your students will not soon forget!
The song is ‘We the People’, based on the preamble to the constitution. It was written in workshop fashion with a 4th/5th grade multi-age class in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The premise of the workshop was the question: Who are ‘We the People’? Children feel very motivated to answer that question once they realize the founding fathers did not include children in their definition of ‘We the People’. Nor did they include women, ‘non-whites’, the poor etc. In fact, their idea of ‘We the People’ was a fairly exclusive club – wealthy, white, male landowners.
- So are you beginning to see the engaging constitution lesson plans here?
- Who are ‘We the People’?
- What are the values of ‘We the People’?
- What are the rights of “We the People’?
- What are the freedoms of ‘We the People’?
- What do ‘We the People’ say ‘NO’ to?
- What are the visions of ‘We the People’?
- What are the beliefs of ‘We the People’?
- Relevancy is key! This give your students constitution lesson plans they can sink their teeth into! Why? Because it is about them!
- The song – ‘We the People’
- If you want to remember something important or make something important memorable, put it in a song. It works! It’s enjoyable and it makes learning fun. The song is composed of three verses and a chorus wherein the preamble to the constitution is recited in unison. It is quite beautiful and moving.
5 Steps – Constitution Lesson Plans
– Activity Guide for ‘We the People’ by Talking Hands Talking Feet
- 1. Listen to the song and follow along with the lyrics provided.
- 2. Sing along with the song (in various groupings) using the lyrics provided.
- 3. Take some time to open up these questions, the children will give their own examples that can be written on the board:
- a. Who are we the people? (our true democracy)
- b. What do we say no to? (our moral compass)
- c. What are we free to do? (our rights)
- 4. Re-look at the lyrics of the song and have the children find movements that work with the song (can be full body or just hand movements). You can watch the video of ‘We the People’ for ideas.
- 5. Sing the song again with the added movements.
So you see, as part of your constitution lesson plans, there’s plenty to work with here.
Your students will never look at the constitution quite the same after this. After all, our constitution is meant to be engaged with, questioned, opened up, dialogued with, updated in the minds and hearts of its intended citizens, ‘We the People’!