Today I would like to share some information about an Internet site that I found recently. The site is http://consource.org. The public launch of consource.org was on Constitution Day, September 17, 2007.
The information on this site is known as the Constitutional Sources Project. This project "is working to collect our national treasures and to make them more accessible to the American people via the Internet" as stated in a statement signed by Senators Harry Reid, Orrin G. Hatch, Sam Brownback, and Edward M. Kennedy.
This project was founded in "2005 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to facilitate research, increase understanding, and encourage discussion of the U.S. Constitution by creating and maintaining the first, free, fully indexed, comprehensive online library of constitutional sources" (Executive Summary).
The reason that I am directing your attention to this site is because it has a Teacher Curriculum Center to provide resources to help teachers as they discuss topics related to the Constitution. The lesson plans are aligned with the standards of New York, Pennsylvania and Texas but hope to have all states represented later. The lesson plans could be easily adapted by teachers in other states. Lesson plans are being developed on civics, government, and history and are written for elementary, middle school or high school students with each level more advanced.
I looked at some of the curriculum and think that it could easily be adapted for parents to teach to their children in their homes. I saw some activities that could be part of family home evenings.
An example of what is available on the site is a satire entitled "Peter Prejudice: The New Breeches (April 15, 1788)." This satire was published by a Federalist during the time of ratification of the Constitution and illustrates the perspective of the Anti-Federalists. If you will remember, the Anti-Federalists were against ratification of the Constitution. They believed the new government would overpower the states because Article VI gave the federal government ultimate authority over the states. They also feared the new government was just an elected form of tyranny - and they had just won a war against a tyrant! The Anti-Federalists also insisted on a declaration of rights. We have them to thank for our Bill of Rights!
The satire is about a man who took his breeches to a tailor to be mended. Over a period of four months (the length of time the Constitutional Convention was in session), the tailor decided that the breeches were so rotten that they weren't worth mending (the delegates decided that the Articles of Confederation were not worth amending). The tailor returned the old breeches without mending them as well as a new pair of breeches made from the fabric provided by the man. The new breeches were a different pattern from the original, but the tailor assured the man that he could make adjustments in them. The man thought he had been insulted until his wife and children convinced him that the new pair was better.
This satire is a good way to illustrate what happened at the Constitutional Convention, which may help children and teenagers to better understand the argument between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The main thing to understand is that the states sent delegates to the convention with authority to amend the Articles of Confederation. The Framers went far beyond their authority by designing a whole new government. They knew that the Constitution might not fit as it was written so they proposed Amendments to make it fit better.
I encourage you to check out consource.org to discover what it is and to see if it has anything that can help you to better teach your children about the Constitution and our Founding Fathers.