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Bill of Rights Activities for High School

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learning about the Bill of Rights is one-part history, one-part civics. It's important for every citizen of the United States, and even has worldwide implications. We can make the process fun with some hands-on activities. Check out these ideas.

Bill of Rights Activities

The Bill of Rights is a document integral to the history and democracy of the United States. While many countries have laws protecting human rights, few countries include these rights in their founding documents. If only for symbolic reasons, this makes it an important document that is worthy of study. The better students understand the Bill of Rights, the better they understand their place in society. We can help them learn about the Bill of Rights in a fun way by having students take part in a variety of activities. In this lesson, we are going to provide a few ideas for activities for teaching about the Bill of Rights.

Card Matching

This activity is pretty simple. Put students into pairs or small groups, and give each group an envelope full of index cards. On some of those cards should be rights that are found in the Bill of Rights, and on others should be amendment numbers (1st amendment, 2nd amendment, 3rd amendment etc.). The goal is for students to match each right to the amendment where it is found. Due to the nature of the Bill of Rights, this won't be simply matching cards into pairs: some amendments contain multiple rights.

This game can be expanded by including real-life scenarios in the match-up. One group could be given simply the amendments and rights, but other groups could be given a series of scenarios where certain rights have been violated. Yet another group could be given scenarios where a certain right was protected. Either way, the goal is to match the cards to the correct amendment. When going this latter route of having different groups with different sets of cards, you can have groups rotate from table to table around the room so they get a chance to match every set of cards.

Classroom Bill of Rights

Sometimes the best way to learn about something is by doing it yourself. After teaching students how the Bill of Rights was written and ratified, you can involve them in the process of creating a classroom Bill of Rights. Start by having groups discuss some of the possibilities, and come up with their own version of the classroom Bill of Rights, and then open it up to the whole class to debate between each other and come to some decisions. You can even run it like a constitutional convention, with a chairperson, debates, and amendments. Finally, students can produce a large poster with bright colors and artwork, displaying their classroom Bill of Rights. You can have each group create their own version, and then students vote on the best one.

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