Book-Inspired Activities

Create Your Own Constitution

As we approach the Independence Day, create your own constitution with your family or your class. I believe it is important to talk with children about the importance of our constitution created by our forefathers.

According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, constitution is defined as “fundamental principles on which an organization agrees to be governed.” Our US Constitution calls our nation to peace, equality, protection, and overall happiness to pass down to our children.

The Constitution also lays out how our nation should be governed. For example, the Constitution sets up the presidents role, the House and the Senate, and role of the states, and more! In the United States, all of our laws should be in align with what our Constitution calls for to run our government.

In order to help your kiddos fully grasp the gravity of writing and upholding a constitution, why not create one for your family?

First, I recommend reading The Fourth of July Story for a concise and detailed description of the writing of our Constitution and the birth of our nation.

How do we create an old-looking document?

Supplies

  • 1 piece of printer paper
  • 1-2 dark tea bags (the number of tea bags is optional)
  • Sharpie
  • Dish for paper
  • Pot for water
Just a few simple supplies

First, fill a small pot with water and bring the water to a boil.

When the water is boiling, place one or two tea bags into the hot water and take it off the stove. Make sure you are using a dark colored tea. The more tea bags you brew, the deeper brown you will get to dye your paper in.

Let the tea bags in water cool completely.

When the tea is cool, remove the tea bags and throw them away.

Next, take your printer paper and crumple it up. Then uncrumple it so that it lays flat. The wrinkles in the paper will allow the color to settle unevenly, leaving a more ancient look.

Lay your crumpled (yet straightened) paper in your dish and pour the tea over the paper. Make sure that all parts of the paper are covered with tea.

Allow the paper to sit for 4 hours. You can choose to vary this time. The longer the paper sits, the darker the staining will be.

Take the paper out of the dish and lay it out to dry. I found it helpful to lay the paper on a cookie rack. This allowed the air to dry on top and underneath the paper. If you need the paper to dry quickly, use a blow dryer on a warm, gentle setting.

Next, crumple the paper once more to get the full old-looking affect.

And finally, using the Sharpie, begin to create your constitution.

What should we write in the constitution?

First, determine what the constitution is for. Are you gathering as a family to develop a constitution? Are you gathering as a class? Are you gathering as a group of friends?

Begin your document with your “We the people” statement. For example, my constitution says “We the members of the Cashner family . . .”

Next, as a group, determine what values are important to you all? Kindness? Loyalty? Forgiveness? Complete your “we the people” statement by listing the overall values that your group holds.

The finished constitution document

Then, as a group, decide on the practical steps that need to take place in order for the values to be upheld. For example, if your class decides that orderliness is important, than maybe the constitution should include a statement that says that at the end of the day, ever person (including the teacher) will clean up their desk area before going home.

Once the practical steps have been agreed upon and spelled out in your constitution, every member of the group should sign at the bottom, just as our forefathers did.

This experience will help your kiddos understand and appreciate the process of creating and abiding by a constitution to reach the common goals of the group. Writing a constitution will also help to give young readers some insight and background experience when they read about the constitution and Independence Day from other books.

Happy Fourth of July!

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