The United States Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787. In honor of that momentous occasion, Cami Bair, a teacher at North Fork Community Montessori School, wrote special curriculum for her students.
The week of Sept. 10-14 the students learned about the Constitution, and on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, they presented a seven-part series of skits.
The skits covered what the Constitution is, who made it, why they made it, what are the rights in the Bill of Rights and why the Bill of Rights was added. They also learned about some of the later amendments. The students discovered why there are the different branches of government and how power is shared between the government and the people. "The government is accountable to the people," Bair said.
The students finished their presentation with songs about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
After the presentation, Bair quizzed her students.
Ruby Chase and Graham Waltermire wrote that the Constitution is "a piece of paper with the rights that keep us free written down."
Who wrote the Constitution? Abby LaBounty said, "Some of the founding fathers." Malachi Deck answered, "George Washington and Benjamin Franklin."
Several answered why the framers made the Constitution. "To keep us safe," Lydia Puckett said. "They wanted the country to have good laws," said Simon Cox. "So we could defend ourselves," said Luke O'Brien.
Asked what are some of the rights in the Bill of Rights, Diego Lareau said the right to bear arms; Kayla Miller said freedom of religion; Milo Chavez named freedom of speech; and Baruch Chase said freedom of assembly.
Arjun Bacigalupi said the Bill of Rights was added because "the framers wanted to add . . . more details to the Constitution."
Concerning the amendments, students had a variety of responses. Crystal Goddard said, "Soldiers should not come in your home." Otus Beason said, "Don't rat on yourself." "Don't let policemen hurt you," said Ellie Feder. "Policemen need a warrant to come into your house," said Carmen Stickles. Abby LaBounty said, "Women and people of color can vote and the president can only be elected twice."
Born in England, Cami Bair understands the importance of the Constitution for the American people. "England does not have a written constitution. All law is based on prior jurisdiction. Some of which dates back to the time of William the Conqueror," Bair said. "And to me having it written down — that's a big deal. I remember when I came to America that feeling of 'It is guaranteed in writing.' That felt very good to me. It's one of the reasons I moved to America."
Regarding the fact that the U.S. Constitution is also a living document where the people can vote by state to amend the Constitution, Bair said, "I think that is absolutely wonderful. I think it's wonderful that the responsibility to uphold it is on us. It's just a piece of paper. So, to follow it and uphold it is [something] people have to decide to do. The kids learned it's voted on by the Supreme Court whether something is constitutional or not. And then they learned that law is passed by Congress . . . and the president enforces it. Without our police, military and courts, the Constitution would just be a piece of paper.
"It was so wonderful to me to start teaching it last year. For an abstract idea, it's very important. It's hard to teach something that abstract to kids that little, but it's important. I'm glad we did it. And I want to keep doing it every year."
North Fork Community Montessori is a Delta County public school.blog comments powered by Disqus