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We the Kids

Last updated Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Author: David Catrow
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0803725531
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2006

Synopsis: (from the publisher) We the People...in order to form a more perfect Union...do ordain and establish this Constitution... You probably read it, or had to memorize it -- but did you really know what the Preamble meant? And did it ever make you laugh? Well, now it will! This upbeat and offbeat look at the Preamble to our Constitution brings kids into its ideas and ideals, showing them the role it plays in their present-day lives and futures. Perfect for inspiring discussion in classrooms and around kitchen tables, this original and thought-provoking book offers a distinctive expression of America's most celebrated principles -- for citizens of all ages.

Note to readers:
•  After doing the ?before? discussion, read the book through first, including the author?s preface (?Big Words, Big Ideas?), then go back to the page at the beginning that explains the terms. Discuss the terms, then maybe read the book again and ask the kids what the different parts mean to them.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  ?Pre-? is a prefix that means ?before.? What other words can you think of that have this prefix (prepare, prefix, prelude, preadolescence)
•  What is our Constitution? Has anybody ever heard of it before? What does it do? (It sets out the form of government we have and the rules our country lives by.) How old is it? (1780s) Are there copies still around? (Yes) Where? (Library of Congress)
•  The preamble to the Constitution tells what the Constitution hopes to do, why it was written.
•  Has anyone ever heard the Schoolhouse Rock version (a song)?
•  Do you have any contracts you have to abide by, e.g., classroom contract, list of chores?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Discuss the terms that are presented at the beginning of the book.
•  Ask what the terms mean to the kids.
•  Discuss 13 original states: Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina. Find them on the map.

Craft ideas:
•  On white paper, write a list of rules you want to live by. Glue it to a piece of construction paper, and then tear the edges to make it look old. Roll it up and tie with yarn.
•  Draw the United States flag, or cut out the stripes and stars and glue them onto paper. Use the version that has only 13 stars (for the original 13 colonies/states). The flag should have 7 red stripes, 6 white, for the 13 original colonies. Discuss the meaning of the various parts.

Special activities:
•  Have a parade.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!