Constitution Day 2015

September 17, 2015



About Constitution Day

Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document. Senator Byrd once said, “Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world.” He added the Constitution Day clause to his 2004 federal spending bill because he believed that all citizens should know about their rights as outlined in the Constitution. This clause mandates the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds, as well as federal agencies.

This Constitution Day, the museum will honor of the 150th ratification of the 13th Amendment, and the beginning of the reconstruction era—a turning point in Constitutional History.  On September 17, the National Constitution Center will host activities and discussions—both at the museum, and on our website—that celebrate not only the founding of our nation, but the Constitution’s continuing story of expanding freedom, creating the story of “We the People.”

Visit our Constitution Day website to learn more!

Constitution Day at the Museum

Head to the National Constitution Center on Constitution Day, September 17, 2015, for FREE admission, courtesy of the PNC Foundation, plus an array of engaging educational programs, ceremonies, hands-on crafts, and special guests.  Call 215-409-6800 to book your group today!

Preamble Challenge
8:30 a.m.
Front Lawn
To kick off the day, National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeff Rosen will lead students in a rousing reading of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States on the museum’s front lawn.
To watch this event live, click here!

Flag Raising Ceremony
9 a.m.
Front Lawn
Join the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution for a patriotic flag raising ceremony!

Interactive Constitution Stations
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Grand Hall Lobby
Visitors to the museum on Constitution Day will be among the first people to try out our newly launched Interactive Constitution, which will be available on iPads in the Main Lobby.  

I Signed the Constitution
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Grand Hall Lobby
Visitors can check out our giant version of the U.S. Constitution and sign their names alongside Washington, Franklin, and Madison.

Craft Activities
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Grand Hall Overlook
Visitors can take part in arts and crafts projects, join in a calligraphy demonstration, and learn the copperplate script used to pen the Constitution.

Eighteenth Century Games
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Front Lawn
Try your hand at graces, hoop and stick, nine pin, and other games popular during the Revolutionary era.

Decoding the Document: The 13th Amendment
9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Richard and Helen DeVos Exhibition Hall
Guests can join our education staff for a closer look at a rare copy of the 13th Amendment.  The document, which was ratified 150 years ago, ended slavery in our nation, and began the reconstruction era—a turning point in Constitutional History.

Judge Chats: A Closer Look at the Courts
10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m., 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m.
Bank of America Family Theater
Students and teachers can attend one of these great sessions with real judges, where they will have the opportunity to speak with experts on the interpretation of law and about how the Constitution can affect everyday life.

American National Tree Induction Ceremony
10 a.m.
Richard and Helen DeVos Exhibition Hall
Every year the museum adds a new individual to the American National Tree. The Tree, a popular exhibit inside The Story of We the People, tells the stories of more than 100 Americans whose actions have helped shape the Constitution over time. Each summer, the National Constitution Center, in partnership with Scholastic Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, holds a student essay contest to determine the newest inductee.

This year’s inductee, Thaddeus Stevens, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives during Lincoln’s presidency.  He fought to abolish slavery and helped draft the 14th Amendment during Reconstruction.  Stevens was the subject of this year’s winning essay, written by C. Sophia George, a 9th grader from Indianapolis, Indiana.  As the winner of the M.R. Robinson American National Tree Award, Sophia has won a $1000 scholarship and a trip to Philadelphia to help unveil the new exhibit.  

Separation of Powers show
10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m.
Grand Hall Overlook
This high-energy show explores how our Constitution limits government by separating powers—a truly revolutionary idea! Take part in an educational tug-of-war game between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches while learning about checks and balances.

Pass the Citizenship Test show
10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Grand Hall Overlook
Do you know what it takes to become an American citizen? During this engaging program, you’ll learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and gain insight into our country and our freedoms.

Naturalization Ceremony
10:30-11:30 a.m.
F.M. Kirby Auditorium
Every year 50 immigrants from across the globe take the Oath of Allegiance to officially become citizens of the United States. The ceremony will be presided over by United States Federal Judge John R. Padova. A Keynote address will be delivered by Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, whose father immigrated to the United States from Ireland. All of the new citizens will be given lifetime memberships to the National Constitution Center.

Bill of Rights Show
10:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m.
Richard and Helen DeVos Exhibit Hall
Who wants to be a “Bill”-ionaire? In the museum’s fast-paced game show, visitors 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.

Kids Town Hall with Justice Breyer
12 p.m.    
Kimmel Theater
Students will meet Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a person who works with the Constitution every day.  Justice Breyer will speak about the ins and outs of his job, and answer students’ questions.
To watch this event live, click here!

The Constitution’s Birthday Celebration
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Grand Hall Overlook
During the lunch hour, the museum offers cake (shaped and designed to look like the Constitution) and invites visitors to sing along to Happy Birthday and other favorite tunes to celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution’s signing. This celebration is complete with confetti and appearances by the museum’s mascots Donnie the Donkey and Ellie the Elephant.  This year we will be joined by President Lincoln, as we not only celebrate the Constitution’s birthday, but the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment—the document that ended slavery!

The Court and the World: Justice Breyer Book Event
2 p.m.
F. M. Kirby Auditorium
Join U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer for a special moderated conversation about the increasingly global scope of the work of the high court. Justice Breyer’s third book as a justice is titled The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities.

Justice Breyer will also discuss American law as it applies in international contexts including commerce, copyright, human rights, treaty obligations and securities fraud.
To watch this event live, click here!

In the Classroom

Visit our Constitution Day website to find fantastic classroom resources:

New Interactive Constitution
Available this September
Explore the best, non-partisan, interactive Constitution on the web, featuring explanatory materials for students in grades 8-12, written by the top constitutional scholars in the country from across the political spectrum—a must-have tool for every classroom!
Made possible by the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation and developed in partnership with the College Board.

The Best of Constitution Hall Pass
Give your students a “hall pass” to travel through American history without leaving the classroom! Our Constitution Hall Pass video lesson series has been watched by millions of students and teachers nationwide.  It’s also a three-time Telly Award winner for excellence in education.  Just in time for September 17, we are releasing a special Fifth Anniversary Edition, featuring clips from our most popular episodes—it’s the ultimate Constitution Day lesson!

Constitution Day Live Chat
Our experts are answering all of your Constitution Day Questions!  Ask us about the Interactive Constitution, the Constitution Hall Pass videos, events at the museum, and more! Available weekdays September 10-23, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. EDT.

Virtual Tour of the National Constitution Center and Conversation with Judge Marjorie O. Rendell
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EDT

Highlights of the 30-minute tour:
•    Signers’ Hall which includes 42 life-sized bronze statues of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
•    Exhibits that focus on the 13th Amendment, women’s rights, civil rights, and more.
•    American National Tree that gives an interactive glimpse of the lives of 100 citizens whose actions have helped shape the Constitution over time.

Watch Previous Constitution Day Episodes

•    Constitution Day 2014: The Bill of Rights
•    Constitution Day 2013: The Legislative Branch
•    Constitution Day 2012: The Presidency
•    Constitution Day 2011: Freedom of Expression
•    Constitution Day 2010: The Judicial Branch

Lesson Plans, Games, and Activities

•    Founding Fathers Biographies
•    Separation of Powers Lesson Plan
•    The Founders’ Library: Thinking as a Founding Father Lesson Plan
•    To Sign or Not to Sign: The Ultimate Constitution Day Lesson Plan
•    Amendment Cootie Catchers Craft
•    Bill of Rights Bingo Craft
•    Preamble Puzzle Craft
•    Which Founder Are You? Quiz

From Our Partners at iCivics

•    Branches of Power Game
•    Executive Command Game


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