How do you make the Constitution a fun thing for 5th graders? Why make it an adventure of course!
During Constitution week in September I decided to teach about the constitution. During Guided Reading we read about the Constitution and its parts. I found out quite quickly that my students knew very little about the branches of government, so we spent some time on that. My students were less than excited about it, but these are things that they need to know being US citizens. I decided to create something to spark their learning.
First, I bought some things from TPT to help in my teaching because under such a short time frame I decided not to pull my hair out by making all the readings myself. Below are links to the two TPT items I used in making my National Treasure Quest.
To start with, earlier in the week, I challenged all of my students to memorize the Preamble of the Constitution. I printed copies of the Preamble for each student and during Morning Meeting we read it together. I also had them watch a few music videos including my personal favorite, School House Rock. The students try to memorize it and say it independently during morning meeting. If they can accomplish this challenge they can earn the class 5 minutes of recess, their name on the Constitution Hall of Fame, and a chance to hear their name on the announcements. The students get so excited to accomplish this and the excitement they have for one another is just amazing!
So after doing some reading on the Constitution and its parts I decided to create a challenge. I wanted the students to feel invested and excited. I created a file that I put all the items the students will need to solve the quest. Students each got a laminate badge with their name on it. I wrote a letter from the head of the FBI instructing the students on what they need to do and enlisting their help in stopping the criminal Henry History from getting away with stealing the Constitution. I even enlisted an amazingly theatrical teacher to deliver the file to the classroom which got the students even more excited about the quest. The best part is that they were learning! Students during this activity were using their comprehension skills and learning about US history at the same time as solving a crime.
I used the Constitution Scavenger Hunt as the base. I printed the pages on card stock and laminated them. Afterwards, I took the answer key and labeled it with the Cards Letter ( instead of numbers these cards have letters) where students can find their answer to that question. I wanted to make sure I could help the students if they didn't know where to find an answer to a question. I then posted them up and down the hallway by our classroom. I tried to keep them away from our classroom door so students don't get suspicious and were surprised. After that I took the Preamble puzzle and printed 5 copies on card stock.. I then numbered each piece, so all the pieces on of the first puzzle were labeled 1, all the pieces were labeled two on the second puzzle, etc. I wanted to make sure no pieces got mixed up. I also decided to right out a riddle on the puzzle. So I went with this riddle I found online "When you come to school you enter through this gate, you might have to sign in if you are late." I put two or three words of the riddle in order on each set of the Preamble puzzle. The goal is that each group would have to work as a team to put the puzzle together, then they would have to read the riddle clues written on each puzzle in order to figure out where to go next. The riddle leads the class to the office where I have a lock box that I put a copy of the Constitution in and some "reporter" style small notebooks for each student. The notebooks were the class reward for solving the case. You would be surprised how inexpensive things, like notebooks, can be an amazing reward. The notebooks were like gold to them. They went around the rest of the day telling every teacher that they solved the case and showing their reward to everyone. My class definitely enjoyed this!