Bill of Rights Day

Bill of Rights Day

December 15, 2016

Do-Now Discussion

Not all of the amendments that James Madison proposed made it into the final Bill of Rights. Is there anything missing from the Bill of Rights that you would have included?

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In honor of the ratification of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791, the National Constitution Center is celebrating Bill of Rights Day with great events at the museum and dynamic resources for the classroom!

The Bill of Rights is the foundation of American liberty.  It is the document that ensures our most fundamental rights and freedoms—from the ability to speak our minds, assemble, and worship freely, to the guarantee that we will be treated fairly under our justice system—for over 200 years, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution have protected our way of life, and allowed civil society could grow and flourish.

Through thoughtful and dynamic programming—both at the museum and in the classroom—the National Constitution Center will help you and your students explore the process by which the Bill of Rights was created, and the protections and limitations it contains.  

Admission to the National Constitution Center will be $5 on December 15, 2014, courtesy of Macy’s.

For tickets, please call 215-409-6700

Special Events

Public Reading of the Bill of Rights
9:30 a.m.
Grand Hall Overlook

The National Constitution Center kicks off the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights with a public reading of the first ten amendments, featuring Father of the Constitution James Madison!
Formal Ribbon Cutting and Public Opening of Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights
9:45 a.m.
George H.W. Bush Gallery

New exhibition featuring the original Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence in the new George H.W. Bush Gallery.

A Piece of History: The Story of the Bill of Rights  
10:30 a.m.
Freedom Classroom

Join constitutional scholar Carol Berkin as we discuss the origins of the Bill of Rights. Learn why the Bill of Rights was needed and how James Madison pushed these amendments as the best way to ratify the Constitution.

Is the First Amendment Alive in Your School?
11:30 a.m.
Freedom Classroom

In this lively and informative workshop featuring federal judge Marjorie Rendell, students will deliberate on issues connected to the First Amendment. By analyzing court cases and school policies, students will learn how students’ free expression rights are currently defined under the law, and then evaluate the necessity and constitutionality of censoring and reprimanding student expression in schools.

Kids Town Hall: The Bill of Rights Story
12 p.m.
Grand Hall Overlook

Join in the conversation and debate around the Bill of Rights.  Founding Fathers of the past will tell stories and answer questions all about why we needed a Bill of Rights, and how it affects your life today.

Bill of Rights Day Book Festival
10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
F.M. Kirby Auditorium

Join the National Constitution Center on Bill of Rights Day for the museum’s first ever book festival featuring four fascinating discussion with several acclaimed authors.
Admission: $5/program or $15 for an all-day pass (each program will be followed by a book sale)

•    Justice Brennan’s Fight to Preserve the Legacy of New York Times v. Sullivan (10 - 11 a.m.)
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the case that changed the First Amendment, has protected the freedom of expression for the past 50 years. Join First Amendment lawyer Lee Levine and veteran Supreme Court reporter Stephen Wermiel as they tell the story of Justice Brennan's struggle to stop efforts to overturn this landmark case.

•    Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of the Left and Right (11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.)
Conservative intellectual Yuval Levin and the National Constitution Center's Jeffrey Rosen explore the origins of the left/right divide by examining the views of the men who best represented each side of that debate at its outset: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. Levin and Rosen will bring the conversation to today’s political discourse—on issues ranging from abortion to welfare, education, economics, and beyond.

•    The Conscience of the Constitution (1:15 - 2:15 p.m.)
Is liberty or democracy the primary constitutional value? Join constitutional scholars Timothy Sandefur and Kermit Roosevelt for a conversation exploring this compelling question— the basis for Sandefur’s most recent book The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty. Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen moderates.

•    John Marshall: The Chief Justice Who Saved the Nation (2:30 - 3:30 p.m.)
Award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals how John Marshall emerged from the Revolutionary War’s bloodiest battlefields to become one of the nation’s most important Founding Fathers. As the longest-serving Chief Justice in American history, Marshall transformed the Supreme Court from an irrelevant appeals court into the powerful and controversial branch of government that Americans today either revere or criticize.

Museum Programming

Living News
10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m.
BOA Theater

Today’s headlines are brought to life in this dynamic, 25-minute performance incorporating video, contemporary music, and current news broadcasts. Featuring three engaging actors who play multiple roles, Living News introduces controversial constitutional issues and encourages the students to explore their own points of view. Following the performance, students engage in dialogue about these timely issues along with the museum’s education staff.

Bill of Rights Show
Grand Hall Overlook
10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m.

Who wants to be a “Bill-ionaire?” In the Center’s fast-paced game show, students face off in a fun competition testing their Bill of Rights knowledge while an engaging host reveals the real deal about our amendments and freedoms.  

Separation of Powers
10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Grand Hall Overlook

This high-energy show teaches the three branches of government and examines how our Constitution limits government by separating powers—a truly revolutionary idea! Students take part in an educational tug-of-war game between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches while they learn about checks and balances.

Founding Fathers, Founding Documents
Exhibition Tours
9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Signers Hall
Join our education team as they lead exhibition tours—taking you back to our revolutionary period to meet the people who founded our nation, and discover the documents they helped create.

I Ratified the Bill of Rights!
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Grand Hall Lobby

Visitors to the Center can check out our giant version of the Bill of Rights and sign their names to this famous document.

Activity Tables
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Grand Hall Lobby

Students can join in some hands on activities for all ages to celebrate and learn about the Bill of Rights.  Make an Amendment Cootie Catcher, a Preamble Scramble puzzle, or a Bill of Rights Bingo Card!

Educators’ Open House
4-7 p.m.  Free, for adults only
Teachers and members are invited to enjoy a sneak peek of the new exhibition Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights. Teachers and members are also invited to learn more about educational resources available and a variety of the National Constitution Center’s partners at the information fair on the Grand Hall Overlook. Act 48 credit will be available for certain programs. Light refreshments will be served.  Advanced reservations recommended.  Please call 215-409-6800.


Constitution Hall Pass

Constitution Hall Pass: The Bill of Rights

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution guarantee so many of our rights and freedoms that we use every single day. Join us as we learn the story of the Bill of Rights, from the time of the Founders right up to today! You’ll see how James Madison originally proposed the Bill of Rights, and how it was up to Congress and the states to decide which amendments made the cut. We’ll show you which rights are actually protected by the Bill of Rights, and you’ll even learn about how students just like you have used those amendments to stand up for their principles—even if it meant taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court! Come along and get to know your rights as we take a look at the Bill of Rights!

Watch online here »

Lesson Plans



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