Honoring our template for freedom
The annual observance of Constitution Day — Sept. 17 this year — honors the document and the amendments to it that keep us free.
It reminds us all that the nation’s Founders created a nation of laws, first with the U.S. Constitution itself, adopted by Congress in 1787 and sent to the states for approval; and next with the Bill of Rights, proposed in 1789 and adopted in 1791.
The Bill of Rights, which includes the First Amendment, comprises 10 amendments that spell out the inalienable rights of the people and specify limits on the government’s authority.
The First Amendment Center Online offers a package of materials for educators, students and others who want to teach and learn about the Constitution and the 45 words of the First Amendment:
Tips for teachers
- Many teachers are looking to explore the foundations of freedom in creative ways. 1 for All, a national, nonpartisan coalition of educators, journalists, librarians, artists and many others, has developed creative lesson plans for grades K-12. These educational materials offer dynamic approaches to teaching First Amendment principles.
- Would You Fight for All Five? Weighing Our First Amendment Freedoms. A great exercise providing an overview of the First Amendment.
Articles & more
- Why Constitution Day is a good time to commit to civic education, by First Amendment Scholar David L. Hudson Jr.
- A portrait of a man whose work was so central to the birth of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — James Madison. By Gordon T. Belt, First Amendment Center library manager.
- The Constitution Center’s guide to celebrating the day.
- Library of Congress repository of constitutional documents and information.
- National Archives scan of the U.S. Constitution.
- National Archives research centers, listed by region and state, including presidential libraries that welcome students as young as 14.