18th Amendment: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has fifteen years of teaching experience, primarily in Special Education and Gifted Education at the K-12 level. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education, K-12. In addition, she has a M.A.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted, K-12. Angela has had several research and review articles published in education journals.

In this lesson, you will learn about the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the selling, making and transporting of alcohol. However, this didn't mean everyone agreed with the new laws or even followed them!


A couple of years ago, the mayor of New York City banned the sale of large sugary drinks including soda pop. The mayor did this because he was worried about people's health; however, many people were unhappy. They felt like it should be their choice whether or not they wanted to buy and drink large volumes of soda pop. The ban was eventually lifted.

The 18th Amendment prohibited people from selling, making or transporting 'intoxicating liquors.' Although alcohol and soda pop are very different types of drinks, people's reaction to the ban was similar. This time in history was known as Prohibition.

Prohibition Movement

Around the 1820s, the temperance movement began. This was a social movement by many groups who were worried about the problems that were arising due to the use of alcohol. Many religious groups believed it was a sin to drink alcohol, while women were concerned that drunkenness was harming families. During this era, it was difficult for a woman to get a divorce or get custody of her children, even if her husband had a drinking problem. Many of these groups felt that by banning alcohol, there would be less violence, crime and accidents.

National Prohibition Convention in 1892

Throughout the 1800s, the temperance and prohibition movement grew stronger. Around 1906, the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) joined with the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) and began a movement against the use of alcohol through speeches, advertisements and protests. A saloon is an old-time bar where alcohol is sold.

One organizer of the prohibition movement, Carrie Nation, had suffered greatly from a husband who drank too much. However, she didn't use the best tactics for fighting against the drinking of alcohol. She resorted to breaking saloon windows and mirrors and even took a hatchet to whiskey barrels. She was arrested many times.

Carrie Nation
Carrie Nation

The 18th Amendment

On January 17, 1920, the 18th Amendment of the Constitution took effect, banning the selling, making and transporting of alcohol. The National Prohibition Act, also known as the Volstead Act, was created to enforce the 18th Amendment.

Now, it's important to realize that the 18th Amendment did not make it illegal for people to drink alcohol or own it privately in their homes. And there were several loopholes, ways to get around a law, that people used. Loopholes during Prohibition included getting a doctor to prescribe whiskey for medical reasons, or making it yourself in your own home - wine making became very popular!

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