Are you aware that Celebrate Freedom Week is law? It sure is! Each student in 3rd grade and above is to participate in Celebrate Freedom Week each year.
According to the Department of Education, the purpose of this celebration is to, “Educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of this country and the values on which this country was founded.”
In order to fulfill the language of the law, there are a few things you need to know.
Know the Language of the Law
Every state uses slightly different language to describe the law. Here is what the Texas Education Agency has to say:
“Each year, during the week that includes September 17, Texas schools honor Celebrate Freedom Week to highlight the values and ideals on which the United States was founded as well as the sacrifices that were made for freedom in the founding of the country. Students learn about the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. Students also examine the relationship between the ideas in these documents and subsequent American history.
Celebrate Freedom Week coincides with Constitution Week, established by the U.S. Congress to encourage all Americans to learn about the Constitution. Both Celebrate Freedom Week and Constitution Week focus on September 17, the date in 1787 when delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution. Congress has also designated September 17 of each year as Constitution Day.”
Basically, there are some must-dos, and they tell you the what, but not the how.
As you take a deeper dive into the standards, most grade levels are required to learn the Preamble to the United States Constitution. This can be tedious. Or it can be fun. I would recommend pulling in multimedia resources to assist in making this an engaging activity.
The classic Schoolhouse Rock video found on YouTube here is still my favorite. There are many other versions out there, but his one remains dear to me for nostalgic reasons.
Celebrate Freedom Week During September
In Texas, the language of the standard says Celebrate Freedom Week should be celebrated the week of September 17th, or another suitable week. I would encourage you to try your best to stick to this week as it includes Constitution Day.
If your classroom is also learning about Patriot’s Day, it is an obvious transition. By keeping the traditional September date, you are building the routine for years to come.
Engage Your Community in Celebrate Freedom Week
One of my favorite ways to learn about the different elements of this celebration is through community members. One year, we had a Constitutional law professor from the local university come. She taught our fourth graders about their rights according to the Bill of Rights. I have never seen my students more enthralled by what I was afraid would be a bit of dry information.
Think outside the box! Encourage your students’ families to get involved. Ideas of community members that would be good to ask are police officers, lawyers or judges, professors, or politicians. In my experience, many members of the community are thrilled at the invitation and excited to participate.
Celebrate Freedom Week in a Way Meaningful to Students
So often, when we discuss subjects like the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights it seems like old information that students don’t have an interest in. Celebrate Freedom Week provides us with the opportunity to connect this learning to current events, but also to happenings throughout our country’s history.
For example, students take a look at the Bill of Rights in relation to local news. Then they discuss whether any of the personal freedoms detailed in the amendments have been violated. This can also be done with historical events.
By relating these historical documents to the present, the learning immediately becomes more meaningful.
Teaching Celebrate Freedom Week
While this subject may not strike you as a rich learning experience from the get go, there is so much opportunity! By meeting the standards in a way that is meaningful to students and engaging the community, you are sure to have the best Celebrate Freedom Week yet.
Looking for a way to get started? Check out this unit with activities to cover your standards.