I am a totally history buff! I minored in the subject in college – I know, boring! Plus, I taught 4th grade once upon a time, which studies U.S. history from the explorers up to the Civil War in the New York State Curriculum. I loved it!!!
So, when it comes to teaching first grade, I often connect American history to our curriculum just because I find it interesting. I love that we now teach about the Constitution in every grade. But the question is, how do you make such a document relevant to 5, 6, and 7 year olds?
Here is what I have pulled together the last few years:
1. I bought a copy of the Constitution and a feather pen at a historical gift shop and to show the students. I give a brief to-do about how, before we were the United States, we were colonies and belonged to England. When we decided to be our own country, important people in our country decided to write rules about how our country should be run.
2. Since we have a strong philosophy of inquiry-based teaching, I find pictures of the signing of the constitution and important people from the time through Google Images. I print these pictures or show them on the Promethean board. We make observations about the pictures and talk about the differences then and now. I think our chat about powdered wigs and clothes is always darling. Also, someone always points out the fact that there are only men signing the Constitution.
3. We read We the Kids, by Daivd Catrow and talk about the meaning of the vocabulary in the Constitution.
4. In the past, I have played a game where students have no rules and they have to make up the rules themselves. After playing, they share their rules for the game and we talk about how they came up with the rules, why they needed rules, and what it was like to play with out rules. We compare this to writing the Constitution. Here is the link to the game:
5. I have read Do Unto Otters, by Laurie Keller. Actually, our district has a subscription to BookFlix, so we watch the book on the Promethean Board.
6. Lastly, we review our classroom rules and I write them on a paper that looks like an old paper scroll with wording similar to the Constitution:
We the kids of room _____, promise to:
And then we all sign it and hang it in the hallway. I try to use fancy, but readable writing. I also have a booklet from The Mailbox a couple years ago where students write and illustrate the classroom rules to take home.
This would be the plan tomorrow. Of course, I may come up with a totally new plan that is so much better as I stand in front of the class…just because that’s how I do things!
Have a great Friday!!!