National Constitution Center
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National Constitution Center
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the National Constitution Center website is a guide for visitors to the Philadelphia museum and a resource for children and adults to study the United States Constitution. There are games, media (such as videos, a blog, and a podcast), and lesson plans for teachers. Users can get information for a future in-person museum visit or explore the Constitution, its history, and its impact from afar.
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What’s It About?
The NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER website is the online home of the Philadelphia museum of the same name. The site's biggest feature is its Interactive Constitution, which users can access by clicking "Explore the Constitution" on the home page. The site also features information for visitors (in the Visit, Exhibits & Programs, and About sections), plus sections called Learn and Debate for those who aren't near the physical museum. "Learn" includes the Constitution Hall Pass (a series of videos and live Web chats), a section called Civic Holidays, an Educational Resources section (including Lesson Plans, Activities, Games, and Historical Documents), and links to book-traveling exhibitions and professional development opportunities. The Debate tab links to upcoming in-person conversations about the Constitution at locations around the country, plus a blog (updated daily) and a podcast (with new episodes weekly).
Is It Any Good?
The Interactive Constitution might be this site's best feature: Kids can view each article and amendment side by side with common interpretations and key facts. These interpretations come from heavy hitters, including law school professors and other scholars of the law, and it's an excellent resource for digging deep into the Constitution as a vibrant document that continues to shape law and life in our country. The Constitution Daily Blog is also a great resource, and its stories are chock-full of great details about how this "living document" has constant, critical relevance to Americans' daily lives.
Other features are more uneven. The Games and Activities don't have learning especially baked in (though it might be fun to click to reveal First Amendment freedoms or build Ben Franklin's kite), and built-in multiple-choice questions feature obviously incorrect distraction answers, limiting their impact and potential to provoke critical thinking. Other games have good features but work inconsistently. For example, the Seize the Vote game offers a good introduction to voting rights but has some confusing gameplay, plus it's Flash-based and won't work on iOS devices. The lesson plans offer great details on their standards alignment and grade levels, but their quality varies: Be sure to download the PDFs and study what's included to see what's turnkey and what will need more support. Though these features aren't excellent, there's enough good content on this site to make it a worthy resource for kids and parents.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what the Constitution is. What does it mean? Why is it important?
For a more in-depth and advanced discussion (likely for older high school kids), talk about how the Constitution is a "living document" -- a contentious issue for loose versus strict constructionists. How does the Supreme Court's work interact with the Constitution? How can you explore past Supreme Court cases and find out how those cases have affected your community and your family?
Have your kids research the authors of the short essays that describe interpretations of the Constitution. Who are these people? What might their biases be, or why might they be a proponent of the perspective they take here?
Talk about the blog and the podcasts around the dinner table as you discuss current events and issues. How does the Constitution still matter to the things we read in the news each day?
- Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, government, history
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, asking questions, thinking critically, Self-Direction: academic development, personal growth, self-assessment, work to achieve goals
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: History
- Pricing structure: Free
- Last updated: December 10, 2015
Our Editors Recommend
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