On September 17th, we the people celebrate Constitution Day. The Constitution is the document that contains the rule of law, the laws that protect and preserve the life, liberty, and happiness of the American people. Bella’s Rules by Elissa Haden Guest is a delightful piece of children’s literature that could help our youngest citizens understand why we celebrate the anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.
In our daily lives, each of us follows rules and laws. In Bella’s Rules, Bella knew the family rules by heart, but she did not follow them. She only followed the rules that she made up. Then one day Bella’s grandmother came and brought Bella a puppy. At first, the puppy did not follow Bella’s rules. As Bella worked to teach her new puppy the rules, she started on her road to realizing how important rules and laws are.
Idea #1: Among the rules that Bella was supposed to follow were the following:
- No yelling indoors
- No painting on paintings
- No climbing the bookcase
Why do you think Bella’s family had each of these rules in their house?
We all have rules in our houses. Some of them are the same in most houses and some of them are unique. For example, if there is a baby in the house, there might be a rule that there is no loud talking when the baby is taking a nap. Do you have a rule that you think is only in your house? Be prepared to share.
Idea #2: The men who wrote the Constitution were called The Framers. They had a very challenging job to do. It is not easy to write a law or a rule. Let’s try our hand at writing a rule:
There is a new Principal in your school. He/she is working with the teachers to come up with a set of rules that will keep everyone safe. The Principal presents a rule to the teachers that he/she would like to see everyone follow. He/she feels that the rule – No Hats in the Classroom – would be a good one because it highlights the importance of showing respect.
Do you think this is a good rule for your school? Why or why not?
Now read the possible exceptions to the rule below. Decide if you think the exception should be made and why or why not.
- Bobby’s family is very religious. He always wears a hat to keep his head covered for religious reasons.
- The gym teacher is teaching his classes how to play lacrosse. Each member of the class is given a helmet to wear for protection.
- Jared and his friends think it is very cool to wear baseball caps backwards in class.
- It is freezing outside and not too warm in the school building. Therefore, some students keep their hats on during class to try to stay warm.
- The librarian’s read aloud for the week is a Dr. Seuss book. Since she has a Cat-in-the-Hat hat, she decides to wear it for the lesson.
- Randi needed chemotherapy. Because of the treatments, he lost a lot of his hair and wants to wear a hat to cover his near-bald head.
Idea #3: The Constitution is not perfect. The men who wrote the Constitution – The Framers – knew that it was not perfect and designed a way to make changes to it. Those changes are called amendments. Twenty-seven amendments have been passed and over 11,000 have been suggested in the time since the Constitution was ratified 225 years ago.
Think about the rules you have to follow in your day-to-day lives. Are there any rules that you would like to amend? Be prepared to share. Now…if you have an amendment to a rule, what plan of action might you take in order to have your amendment passed by the proper authorities?
Idea #4: The book Daft Bat by Jeanne Willis is another title on the suggested reading list for September, the month in which we celebrate our Constitution. In this book, all of the young wild animals think Bat is crazy because of the way she sees things. By the end of the book, however, they realize that Bat just has another point of view.
One of the things that makes our country unique is that we are all free to have our own point of view. This freedom is among those found in our Constitution. Now…read the scenario below and be prepared to share your point of view on it.
Imagine there is a new student in your class who came from another country. This new student knows very little about the people and the activities in your school. However, he is very interested in getting involved in the school and, therefore, he decides to run for class president. Do you think he should be allowed to run or not? Be prepared to share and support your point of view.