Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

Second Grade - American Civilization - Overview

The concepts of the Constitution and the resulting government of the United States can be difficult for young children. An attempt was made to simplify the events and outcomes of the First Constitutional Convention. As you read over the following lessons you may wish to add activities to your study or simply use them in a bare bones fashion. The essential elements that your students should take away are:

The need for a constitution

The Constitution is the highest law

The contents of the Constitution-government and individual rights

The roles of George Washington and James Madison

Suggested books for you to use are:

Aliki. The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1977.

Benchley, Nathaniel. George the Drummer Boy. New York: HarperCollins, 1977.

Benchley, Nathaniel. Sam the Minuteman. New York: Harper and Row, 1969.

Fritz, Jean. Shh! We're Writing the Constitution. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1987.

Fritz, Jean. What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? New York: Coward, McCann and Meghegan,

Inc., 1976.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

Levy, Elizabeth. If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution. New York: Scholastic, 1987.

Maestro, Betsy and Giulio. A More Perfect Union-The Story of Our Constitution. New York:

Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1987.

Marzollo, Jean. In 1776. New York: Scholastic, 1994.

Spier, Peter. We the People: The Constitution of the United States of America. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1987.

Thomas, Marlo. Free to Be ...A Family. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.

Zeman, Anne and Kelly, Kate. Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework. New York: Scholastic, 1994.

Additional Activities:

1. You may wish to have the students make and wear paper wigs like those worn by the men at the convention. This would allow the students to get more into the role playing of the day.

2. Read Sam the Minuteman and George the Drummer Boy before starting the second lesson so that your students have a better background on the American Revolution. Likewise, In 1776 could be read to the class.

3. Spend some time getting to know George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, or James Madison.

Have the students compare their lives to young George or young Ben.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Overview

4. Read some of Ben Franklin's famous sayings from Poor Richard's Almanac. Discuss, "Eat to live, not live to eat," "Honesty is the best policy" or "Lost time is never found again."

5. Have the students color a worksheet from the black-line reproducible Our Flag, Capital and Government - Grades 2-3, A Frank Schaffer Publication, 1988.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 1 - The Constitution



Identify the need for rules.

Participate in the development of a compromise.

Background information

This lesson can be combined with making or learning classroom rules. Whether you dictate the rules for the class or allow the students to participate in making them, the process should be explained to them. From the experience of making rules or having rules dictated to them the students should be able to recognize the reasons we have rules/laws. If the students participate in making the rules they should also have some idea of what compromise is all about.

At the end of this lesson a suggestion is made for an activity to be done in conjunction with Lesson 4. It is included here so that you will consider it at a future date. The activity is included in its entirety in Lesson 4 as well.


Ask the students to tell what a rule/law is. List their definitions on the board. Talk about the various definitions and come up with a single definition. (A rule or law is a guideline that permits people to live safely and considerately together.)

Next ask the students to tell why people need rules/laws. Encourage them to explain what happens when we do not have rules or do not follow them. Use an example that is appropriate for your students. You might suggest a game played without rules or the classroom without any rules being followed. Also this is a good opportunity to discuss school-wide rules and what might happen if they were not followed or if only some classes chose to follow them. Emphasize that while individual classes may have their own rules, it is still necessary for the school, or all the schools in the system, to have a set of the same rules and rights.

If possible read the story "The Kingdom with No Rules, No Laws, and No King" by Norman Stiles (Thomas, Marlo. Free to Be...A Family. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.) This story illustrates the disasters that can occur when there are no rules, the need for clarity in making rules, and how compromises can be managed. It is a perfect story for this lesson.

Continue the lesson by asking the students to name some of the rules they know. Suggest that they tell about rules at home, the mall (wear shirt and shoes, no skateboarding), riding on a bus (keep head and hands inside), riding in a car (wear a seatbelt) etc. Talk about why each of these rules is necessary and why someone felt it necessary to make them. Help the students to see that rules usually protect us in some way.

Finally, use this part of the lesson to develop or review the rules for your classroom. Be sure to state the rules in positive terms (We are quiet when others are talking) and emphasize the consequences when the rules are disobeyed. (The classroom becomes too noisy to hear each other.) Let the students see that when many people work on something together a compromise is usually necessary. It can be either with the concept or in the wording of the written product they develop.

List the rules in a positive format such as:


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 1 - The Constitution

In our classroom we will:

listen when others are talking

come to school on time etc.

Later, after you have studied the Constitution you may want to have your students add a preamble to the class rules. You can then have the students sign this Class Constitution.

We the people of grade 2, room ___, in order to get along together and make the best progress we can make in second grade agree to do the following:

In our classroom we will:

Be sure that you sign the class constitution as well as the students. Remind the students that George Washington acted as the person in charge during the convention. His signature said that he affirmed or agreed with the ideas they had written just as your signature affirms the constitution your class developed. Post this constitution for all to see.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 2 - The Constitution


Identify the needs for the Constitution.

Name and locate the original thirteen states.


World map

Large map of the American colonies/states

Individual student maps of the colonies/states



Review the colonies and the American Revolution. Tell the students that the people in the colonies were very unhappy being ruled by a king, especially a king who lived all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and charged them huge taxes. (Explain that the taxes made the king rich but did not help the colonies. If the students do not know what a tax is explain that it is money charged in addition to the cost of the item being purchased.)

Be sure to initially show a map of the world so that students have a reference for the colonies, England and the Atlantic Ocean. As the lesson continues make a map of the colonies available. Tell them that King George of England sent soldiers to the colonies to make sure that the people followed his laws. The people in the colonies had to let the soldiers live in their houses. They even had to feed them. The people in the colonies told King George that they didn't want to pay large amounts of money and be told what to do without having some say about the laws. The king would not compromise however, and eventually there was a war and the American Colonies became states, free from England.

After the Revolution each of the states wanted to make its own rules. They elected their own leaders and made up their own rules that were special for just that state. Refer to the lesson before this and remind the children that now each of the colonies had their own rules just as each of the classes in the school may have its own rules. This was okay but there wasn't a set of rules that they all agreed on. The people in the states were always disagreeing. Sometimes people went to jail for breaking a law in one state that was not a law in another. Some states charged huge taxes on products made and grown there and some even said that people could not practice their own religion.

The states found it difficult to talk to each other because it took so long for news to travel from one state to the other and they didn't always want to compromise about solving problems. Also, the English soldiers moved out west when England gave the United States the land east of the Mississippi River, north to Canada and south to Florida. They were still a threat and the people in the states were tired from all the fighting. They had no money to pay for more battles; they had been away from home a long time and were not anxious to be away any more. Also, because each state had different ideas and individual constitutions they needed to get together to make a set of superlaws and a plan by which they could get along and live together in peace and harmony.

Ask the children how they might have tried to solve the problem if they had lived back then. Point out on the map the distances between the states. Remind them that there were no telephones or airplanes or even cars back then. Tell them that these men finally decided that they BCP DRAFT HIST 6

Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 2 - The Constitution

needed to get together and talk about solving their problems and making new laws.

Give each student a map of the colonies/states. Say the names of each of the thirteen states, asking the students to point to and repeat each one you say. Be sure to emphasize the difference in the size of the states and where each is located. Ask them to think about what problems that might cause when they tried to make the laws.

You may wish to have the students color the maps but remind them to color adjacent colonies different colors so as to not obliterate the boundary lines. Have the children put the maps away (or collect) and explain that you will use them again in the next lesson when the states start to solve the problems.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 3 - The Constitution


Identify the need for a Constitution.

Identify the problems encountered when writing it.


Large map of the American colonies/states

Individual student maps of the colonies/states (Lesson 2)

Names of the states written on sentence strips


Ask: Who can remember something about the map of the states that we looked at last time? (13 states, on the east coast, some states larger/smaller than others, next to the Atlantic Ocean) What problems were the people in the states having? (states had different laws, some states charged huge taxes on items for sale or trade, there was no one to protect them)

Tell the students that the leaders in the states realized that something had to be done so that the states could get together and talk. They decided to call a convention or meeting. Each state would send some representatives to one place where they could all get together and talk. In May, 1787, leaders were called to Philadelphia, a city in Pennsylvania. They met in a hall there in a rather crowded room. The men agreed that they would talk over ideas until they all arrived at the same decision. They would keep everything secret and kept the windows locked so that no one could eavesdrop. Remember that this convention took place during the summer and it got very hot in Philadelphia so we have some idea that this convention was a very important affair. Remind the students that all this took place over two hundred years ago! Imagine, there was no air conditioning and no electric fans and the men wore jackets and wigs.

Tell the students that George Washington was at this special convention. Remind them that at this time he was a general who had led soldiers in the Revolutionary War. While he was not yet the president of the country he was chosen to be in charge of the convention. Another famous man they might know who was there was Benjamin Franklin. Already in his eighties, he was the oldest man there. James Madison might have been the most important man who was there. He was responsible for writing down everything that was said each day. At night he copied everything over so it was clear and neat. He is called the "Father of the Constitution."

Have the students divide into twelve groups. Remember that Rhode Island did not send a delegate. Some groups may only have one or two members. Give each group the name of a state and have the group find that state on the map. Ask: Is your state large or small? Is your state very far north or south? Is your state on the east coast or inland? Would it take you a long time to come to Philadelphia or only a little bit of time? Space the time between questions and help the students to see the differences between the states on each issue.

If possible, read the book A More Perfect Union-The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy and Giulio Maestro. (New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1987) If you are able to read the book at this point in the lesson the students could listen to what the delegates for their respective states did at the convention and then re-enact the event with you. This book puts the events of the time in a clear straightforward manner for children.

If the book is not available pose the following events that occurred and ask the children to BCP DRAFT HIST 8

Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 3 - The Constitution

respond to them the way they think the delegate from their state would have reacted and possibly voted. It is not necessary that the children learn the various plans. They are included so that the

process of compromise is again reviewed and so that students can see that writing the Constitution was not an easy affair.

Tell the students that one item that was considered was the job of the person in charge of the country. Should this be one person, like a king, or should there be more than one person in charge? Should this person get paid? Who should pay?

Delegates from different states took turns getting up before the group and proposing their plans. Each time the men at the convention voted. It took sixty times voting before they decided about the President alone!

Considerations had to be given to:

The Virginia Plan which said:

A government elected by the people.

Three parts to the government: a President, a Congress or group of people to make laws, and a law court to make decisions about those laws.

Each state would choose delegates to serve in Congress and the number of delegates would depend on the size of the state.

(Representatives of the larger states liked this plan but representatives from smaller states did not.)

A vote was taken and the delegates agreed to a new government. They would write a constitution but they didn't agree as to how to decide on the number of people who would be part of it.

The New Jersey plan which said:

Each state should have the same number of delegates.

The old government was just fine.

Now a disagreement started because the big states and the little states started to fight about the number of delegates and the fact that some states thought they needed a new government .

The Connecticut Compromise:

There would be a new government.

Each state would get two representatives regardless of the size of the state.

Each state would also get to send some other representatives depending on the size of the state.

Finally, here was a plan that could work! Now the job would be getting the people in all the states to agree to or ratify this Constitution.

By September, 1787, a new Constitution was ready. After the delegates and George Washington signed it the delegates had to take it back to their states for approval by the people in their state. Nine out of the thirteen states had to ratify the Constitution in order for it to become law.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 3 - The Constitution

Delaware was the first state to approve, then Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and

Connecticut were next. Massachusetts, Maryland and South Carolina also agreed. Finally New

Hampshire said yes and America was on its way. Eventually all the states ratified the Constitution but for a long time Rhode Island and North Carolina did not.

Now a new Congress was elected and law courts were made, but some people still worried. They worried that the rights of the people that had been taken from them once could be taken from them again. Remind the students that people had come to America to be able to practice their own religion, to make their own laws, etc. In order to make sure that this would not occur some additions were added to the Constitution. The first ten additions were named the Bill of Rights. Here were the guarantees and freedoms for people to act a certain way.

Review with the students the names of the thirteen states, and some of the reasons why a Constitution was necessary. Tell them that the next time you talk about the Constitution you will talk some more about the Bill of Rights.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 4 - The Constitution


Define right.

Discuss the reason for the Bill of Rights.

Discuss the First Amendment.

Complete a crossword puzzle.


Classroom size map of the United States


If you decided to write a class constitution this would be the time to do it. Remind the students that together you drew up the components of a classroom set of rules just as the men at the convention did. You can now put your statement together and sign it. Read the Preamble to the Constitution to the students, then model your constitution this same way (see Lesson 1).

We the people of grade 2, room ___, in order to get along together and make the best progress we can make in second grade agree to do the following:

In our classroom we will:

Be sure that you sign the class constitution as well as the students. Remind the students that George Washington acted as the person in charge during the convention. His signature said that he affirmed or agreed with the ideas they had written just as your signature affirms the constitution your class developed. Post this constitution for all to see.

Review the number, names and locations of states in existence at this time (Thirteen- Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia). Review the contents of the Constitution: one government with three parts that included an elected President, a congress to make laws, and a law court to make decisions on those laws; each state guaranteed two representatives to be part of this government and additional representation would be determined by the size of the state. Draw a very simple diagram on the board for this. At the top draw a sheet of paper and underneath it write Constitution. Draw three arrows pointing down and away from this. Under the first arrow write President, under the middle arrow write Congress, and under the right arrow write Supreme Court. If you are artistic you might also draw symbols with these words. Finally, draw two downward pointing arrows from the word Congress. Under one arrow write two representatives, under the other arrow write ? representatives (size of state).

Tell the students that this Constitution was so powerful because it allowed the citizens to elect the officials who would govern them and it said that the power of the government would be shared between the national government and the state governments. The Constitution opens with the words "We the people"; this means that the people together agreed to be governed this way. If you did not read the Preamble earlier in this lesson be sure to read and discuss it now. If possible read the book We the People: The Constitution of the United States of America by Peter


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 4 - The Constitution

Spier. This beautiful book shows side by side drawings of the 1700's and present day enhancing the words of the Preamble.

Remind the students that your last lesson left off with the Bill of Rights. Emphasize that the Bill of Rights was not added to the Constitution until 1781. The people insisted on these rights being written because they were afraid that the government could become too powerful and their rights could be taken away. Finally, for the first time the people felt that they were in control of the government. Sadly, however, this power did not belong to everyone; Native Americans, African Americans and women were not allowed to vote.

Ask: What is a right? (guarantee or freedom to act a certain way) Which right was so important to the people who first settled the colonies? (religion) Which other rights do you think the people wanted? Which rights would you want included in the Constitution?

Discuss the First Amendment with the students. Emphasize that it guarantees the right to choice of religion, gives the freedom of speech, the press, to meet together in groups and to ask the government for help. You may wish to discuss other amendments with the students as well but this first amendment holds so much to talk about that you may not have enough time. Be sure to discuss the responsibilities associated with the rights. Remind students that we have the right of free speech but we may not say lies about people or threaten them and we may not say things that would cause danger; like yelling "Fire" in a crowded building when there is no fire.

Students should know that when something is suggested for an amendment it takes a long process to become one. At present there are twenty-six amendments and over 10,000 have been proposed.

Be sure that by the end of this lesson the students are able to tell that the Constitution contains the guidelines of the United States government and the rights and freedoms of the American people.

Complete the crossword puzzle with the students. To facilitate this activity you may wish to spell the words used for the answers and write them on the board. Use capital letters when you print the words and have the children do the same.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 5 - The Constitution


Name the three parts of the goverment.

Identify responsibilities specific to each part.



Sentence strips with the terms: President, Congress, Supreme Court


Have the students recall the three parts of the government written in the Constitution. (a congress to make laws,a President who makes sure the laws are carried out, a court to settle questions about the laws) The children may be familiar with the term Congress and should be able to identify the President by name. Tell them that the court mentioned in the Constitution is the Supreme Court and that it is made up of nine judges who decide about our laws. Not so long ago a very famous judge named Thurgood Marshall served on this court. He was born in Maryland.

Help the children to understand the process of law making in our country by putting the three terms on the board in a triangle shape. Explain that when the Congress makes a law it then sends it to the President. The President may approve the law or veto (or disapprove) the law. If the President approves the law it goes out to the people. If the President vetoes a law it goes back to Congress and they work on it some more.




1. The Bill of ________________ has ten amendments in it.

3. Many people came to America

for freedom of ________________.

5. The _____________________ is

made up of our laws and our rights.

7. King __________________

wanted to rule the colonies.

9. The colonies broke away

from ____________________.

11. George _________________

became our first president.


2. _______________

colonies became thirteen states.

4. The __________________ sees

that laws are carried out.

6. The Supreme _______________ is the highest court in the United States.

8. Rhode ________________ was the only state not represented at

the convention.

10. ______________________ makes the laws for the United States.