Week 1: The Constitution
READ K – 4: We the People by Lynne Cheney
5 – 6: The Constitution of the United States by Christine Taylor-Butler
7 – 8: The Constitution by Paul Finkelman
- The first set of rules America adopted for governing the country didn’t work very well. What were they called? (Articles of Confederation)
- What were some of the problems our country was having before the Constitution was adopted? (Couldn’t collect taxes, each state had its own money, couldn’t defend itself or pay soldiers, British refused to move out of military posts, no court system, Americans fighting each other.)
- Where did the Constitutional convention meet? (Philadelphia)
- Who was president of the Convention? (George Washington)
- Who came up with much of the plans for the Constitution? (James Madison)
- Why did delegates from big and small states disagree with the plans for Congress? (Big states wanted more representatives, small states wanted equal say)
- What was the “Great Compromise”? (Split Congress into 2 houses: The Senate & the House of Representatives. The Senate would have 2 reps for each state; the House would have a number of representatives based on state population)
- Why was slavery an issue in determining how many reps a state would get? (Southern states wanted more reps because of slaves.)
- How was this resolved? (5 slaves counted as 3 free people)
- What important historical figure urged the delegates to sign the Constitution even if they didn’t agree with all of it? (Ben Franklin)
Questions for Grades 5 – 8:
- Why are there 3 branches of government? (Checks & balances to make sure no branch had too much power)
- What are the three branches of government? (Legislative, Executive, & Judicial)
- What does the Legislative Branch do? (Makes laws: consists of the Senate & the House of Rep)
- What does the Executive Branch do? (Enforces laws: consists of president & his staff)
- What does the judicial branch do? (Interprets laws, makes sure laws are used correctly: consists of courts)
- What are Amendments? (Changes to the Constitution)
- What are the first 10 Amendments called? (Bill of Rights)
- Name some other famous Amendments? (to end slavery, right to vote for women)
ACTIVITIES: K – 5: Get a piece of poster board and use Google images: https://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=ii
to find and print pictures of the following:
- ·The Constitution
- President of the Convention: George Washington
- Planner of the Constitution: James Madison
- Negotiator of the Convention: Ben Franklin.
In the Constitution our delegates planned our country to have 3 branches of government. Using google images, find a picture of each of the following:
- The Executive: picture of the President or the White House (or both)
- The Legislative: picture of the Capitol building
- The Judicial: Find a picture of the Supreme Court building or Supreme Court Judges (or both)
Divide your poster board into 3 rows.
- In the top row paste your picture of the Constitution. Write “The Constitution” under the picture.
- Divide the second row into 3 equal boxes. Paste your pictures of George Washington, James Madison, & Ben Franklin into these 3 boxes. Write “President of the Convention” under George Washington’s picture, write “Planner of the Constitution” under James Madison’s picture. Write “Negotiator of the convention” under Ben Franklin’s picture.
- Divide the third row into 3 equal boxes. Write “Enforces Laws” under the picture of president or the White house. Write “Makes Laws” under the Capitol building, and Write “Interprets Laws” under the Supreme Court Building or the Judges.
6 – 8: Choose one of the following essay options:
- Which 3 delegates attending the Convention were probably the most influential in the forming of the Constitution? Why? Write a 5 paragraph- 3 proof essay.
- Look at this picture of George Washington’s chair in Independence Hall: http://www.ushistory.org/mre/sun.htm According to this site, George Washington used this chair for nearly three months of the Federal Convention’s continuous sessions. James Madison reported Benjamin Franklin saying, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.” Write an essay explaining what you think Ben Franklin meant by this comment.
Copyright January 3rd, 2014 by Gwen Fredette