Celebrate Bill of Rights Day
Additional Lessons: From our Catalog
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, this Virginia law served as the model for the religious clauses in the First Amendment. It established a clear separation of church and state and was one of Jefferson’s proudest accomplishments.
John Peter Zenger and the Freedom of the Press. Should someone be prosecuted for criticizing or insulting a government official even if the offending words are the truth? Should a judge or a jury decide the case? These were the key questions argued in the colonial New York trial of John Peter Zenger. The outcome deeply influenced freedom of the press in America.
Wartime and the Bill of Rights: The Korematsu Case. During World War II, the U.S. government ordered 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry into prison camps. Fred Korematsu, an American citizen of Japanese descent, refused to go, and his case went before the Supreme Court.
Free Press vs. Fair Trial: The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Case. Charles Lindbergh was a genuine American hero. He was the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. When his infant son was kidnapped, the trial of the alleged kidnapper developed into a sensational news story. The reaction of the public to this highly publicized crime, and the effects that modern publicity had on the jury, seriously challenged the limits of freedom of the press. The controversies raised by the media coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial still resonate today.
See our full archive of Bill of Rights in Action lessons.
Middle School Lessons
Arrest and Search. Students learn about the Fourth Amendment’s requirements for arrests and searches. Then in a paired writing activity, they take the role of television writers and create scenarios illustrating legal arrests and searches.
The Trial of John Peter Zenger. This trial in colonial times helped define freedom of press in America.
Elementary School Lessons
Mr. Madison Needs Some Help. Students prepare to help James Madison decide what rights and freedoms should be included in the Bill of Rights. Through reading and discussion, students meet Madison as he is struggling to write the Bill of Rights. Then students work in small groups to create their own lists of rights to be included in the Bill of Rights. Students conclude by comparing their lists with the Bill of Rights.
What Is Your Best Freedom? Students make a poster illustrating their “best freedom.” In preparation, students discuss the freedoms they have as Americans and at school.
From CRF's Catalog
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The Constitution & the Bill of Rights: An Introduction
The Constitution & Bill of Rights: Equal Protection
The Constitution & Bill of Rights: Due Process
The Constitution & Bill of Rights: Free Expression
The Constitution & Bill of Rights Due Process, Vol. 2
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