Wrote the Constitution?>The Constitution
The Constitution Game
NOTE: This lesson is reproduced from the National
The following activity was developed by Rennie G. Quible, National
Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Volunteer Docent, as an
introduction to a unit on the Constitution. It is frequently used
by NARA volunteers with visiting school groups and by volunteers
who visit local schools.
This lesson correlates to the National Standards for United States
Era 3 - Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
Standard 3A: Demonstrate understanding of the issues related to the
creation and ratification of the United States Constitution and
the new Government it established.
This lesson also correlates to the National Standards for Civics
Standard II. A. 1: Explain central ideas of American constitutional
government and their history.
Standard V. D. 4: Evaluate, take, and defend positions on the importance
to American constitutional democracy of dispositions that facilitate
thoughtful and effective participation in public affairs.
Time required: One class period
Objective: To describe how the members of the Constitutional Convention
might have felt as they gathered and began the arduous and memorable
of writing the United States Constitution.
Materials needed: Envelopes containing 1 die, 12
paper clips; the following rhymed instructions:
It's time to play a little game.
No two groups will play the same.
What and how is up to you.
The group must choose what it will do.
Use the things that you find here.
It won't take long; you need not fear.
In six short minutes you'll share your fame
By telling how you played your game.
- Arrange students into groups of three or four.
- Distribute one
prepared envelope to each group, instructing participants to
wait for a signal to open them.
- Instruct the students to follow
the instructions contained in the envelope. Caution them to remember
how they feel as they follow
- Give the signal to begin. The word "Archives" works
well as a signal.
- Circulate around the room, and remind students
to remember how they are feeling as they play the game. When
students ask what they
are to do, simply say, "Follow the instructions you found
in the envelope."
- After 6 minutes, instruct participants
to stop the game.
- Ask a spokesperson from each group to describe
the game they devised, and how they felt as they played. Some
of their remarks might include
the following: we were confused, we thought it was dumb, we did
not know what to do, or we were excited about getting to make
it up as we went along.
- List the responses on the chalkboard.
- After all groups have reported,
begin describing the Constitutional Convention:
In May of 1787, outstanding citizens from 12 states gathered
in Philadelphia. They planned to be there only a little while.
They had come to improve
the Articles of Confederation and try to create more unity and
cooperation among the states. Rhode Island sent no representatives.
How did those men feel that May? (Read the responses the students
offered in reference to their feelings toward the game.)
you used 12 paper clips. They represent the patriots who came
from the 12 states. The die represents luck and each day that
rolled around from May 25 to September 17. You figured out how
to play the game. They figured out how to write our Constitution.
while they went about the great task of writing the United States
Constitution, they probably felt much the same as you did today.