In the United States, the Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of constitutional amendments, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States. The Bill of Rights limits the powers of the federal government of the United States, protecting the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory.
What to do on Bill of Rights Day…
Well…this is one of those days that is a little more challenging, especially if you have young kids. How do you teach the Bill of Rights to a 5 and 8 year old when they may not even know about the Constitution? You might be surprised at how much they will understand. Either way, for these harder topics, the idea is to simply introduce it.
Bill of Rights for Kids
Here is a simplified version of the Bill of Rights (good for refreshing my memory too!) from historyforkids.net…
The Bill of Rights is also known as the first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Many of these amendments seek to protect the rights of citizens by focusing on personal freedoms and the power of government. The amendments included in the Bill of Rights are:
1. The First Amendment grants freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and the right to protest.
2. The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms
3. The Third Amendment states that soldiers cannot take over a home during war or peace without the homeowner’s permission.
4. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable and unlawful search and seizure of property.
5. The Fifth Amendment allows all citizens due process and states that a person cannot be forced to serve as a witness against himself when accused of a crime.
6. The Sixth Amendment provides a speedy and public trial by jury for all who are accused of a crime.
7. The Seventh Amendment also allows a trial by jury to be held for certain civil disputes.
8. The Eighth Amendment prevents those accused of suffering cruel and unusual punishment.
9. The Ninth Amendment states that no one’s Constitutional rights should be used to infringe upon the rights of another citizen.
10. The Tenth Amendment provides each state with powers that are not specifically assigned to the nation’s government in the Constitution.
Bill of Rights Worksheet
After learning the 10 amendments, here’s a worksheet to test your knowledge of the Bill of Rights.
Bill of Rights Rock Song!
So, as I was deliberating on how to dig into talking about the Bill of Rights with my kids, who were happily playing, I came across this song. My son loves music and the computer, so anytime he hears ANY noise coming from the computer (even ads) he rushes over to see what I am watching. It was just the intro I needed. The link is below, but FYI, it cuts out at the end and you need to pay for the whole version. I was happy with the amount I heard, so I never purchased it. It was just enough to get us talking about the Bill of Rights.
There’s also a Schoolhouse Rock version.
Once you’ve talked (and rapped) about the Bill of Rights, now you can start doing a little more with it. Maybe role play some of the Amendments, for example, pretending to arrest each other without a reason.
Write your own Bill of Rights
Have the kids write their own Bill of Rights – a Bill of Rights for sisters, a Bill of Rights for pets, etc. (My son was immediately excited about this so that he could include the right to watch as much screen time as he wanted!)
A Colonial snack
After all the hard work of learning about the Bill of Rights, have a snack like in Colonial times! Although, a ‘Colonial snack’ is probably an oxymoron, as people of the 1700s didn’t really have snacks. In fact, they didn’t eat nearly as much as we do now! Breakfast was light and consisted of bread or porridge and milk, cider, or beer. People usually woke up and started right into their chores. Dinner was the mid-day meal and often the biggest meal of the day. Dinner consisted of pudding, bread, meat, roots, pickles, vinegar, salt and cheese. Supper was a lighter evening meal, and often similar to breakfast: bread, cheese, mush or hasty pudding, or warmed over meat from the noon meal.
If they were to have a snack, or “intermeal eatings”, it would probably be raisins, currants, cranberries, apples, and bread.
Colonial Life & Activities
Click here for more activities on Colonial life.
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