‘We the people…’ Students at Redding celebrate U.S. Constitution

Most kids will tell you studying the U.S. Constitution is not their idea of fun.

Some might complain it’s boring. Others will say it’s too difficult to understand. And a few just won’t care.

That’s not the case at Seymour-Redding Elementary School.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Thanks to fifth-grade teacher Sandy Mellencamp, nearly 100 students now see the Constitution and Bill of Rights as something to celebrate.

For the past two weeks, the students have been learning about the country’s most important documents and why they should want to know about them.

“It’s interesting to learn how it was created. They wrote it out so our laws would be fair,” said student Jaylen Stewart. “I didn’t know anything about it until we started studying it.”

Stewart said history can be fun.

“It’s my favorite class this year,” she said.

The curriculum on the Constitution is part of Indiana’s educational standards for fifth-grade history, but it’s up to the teachers to find ways to make the information meaningful to students.

Through fun lessons, songs and skits, Redding fifth-graders have memorized the Preamble to the Constitution, which is the famous beginning of the document that sets out its fundamental purposes and guiding principles.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” the students recited together.

They can list many of the freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights, which is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Those amendments establish such rights as freedom of religion, speech and the press and the right to bear arms.

To celebrate Constitution Day, which is Monday, the fifth-grade classes spent a couple of hours outside Thursday morning playing Constitution-themed games.

“There’s so much you can find online anymore,” Mellencamp said of ideas for different activities and lessons. “We do a lot of songs, so there is one about the Bill of Rights set to ‘(I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles’ and one to ‘Thriller.’ The kids love those, and the song lyrics are so chocked full of the information they need to understand these things.”

Today, the students will have the opportunity to write mock newspaper stories about their Constitution Day celebration to incorporate writing into their studies.

This year’s Constitution Day commemorates the 231st anniversary of the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. A total of 39 of the country’s forefathers signed the document, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton.

For more than a decade, Mellencamp has organized the Constitution Day event to make learning about the history behind it fun and as a reward for students who paid attention and did well.

“I just want kids to be interested in government,” Mellencamp said. “I want this to be something they remember that they had a big celebration for the Constitution. If they just study it from a book or even watch a movie, they aren’t going to remember it.”

The event started off with a costume contest. Students came dressed in their most patriotic attire, from red, white and blue hair and face paint to stars and stripes hats, socks and other clothes.

Winners in the contest were Treniti Adair for most original; Brady Terrell, most patriotic; Riley Bear, most hilarious; Sydney Bush, most spectacular; and Aiden Rodriguez, most elaborate.

Rodriguez said he had his mom to thank for getting him ready for the costume contest.

“She painted my face and bought me suspenders and this bow tie to wear,” he said.

He said he liked how his teachers made learning about the Constitution fun with songs and games.

“It’s better than just learning in a classroom, and it makes it easier to learn,” he said.

In the Preamble Scramble, students worked together in teams and raced to see who could unscramble the words to the Preamble the fastest.

Other games included the Bill of Rights Relay, Second Amendment Gunny Sack Stampede and Let Freedom Ring, which involved a ring of students holding hands and trying to pass a hula hoop around their necks without using their hands.

The morning was capped off with Ten Amendments Tug-of-War, which pitted classrooms against each other in a game of teamwork, strength and determination.

All of the kids seemed to be the most excited for competing in tug-of-war.

Student Bailee Loudermilch said she liked learning about the history behind the Constitution and U.S. history in general.

She was shocked to learn that the American colonies were run by the king of Great Britain before the United States declared its independence and established a president to govern the country.

Loudermilch said all kids should learn about and try to understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

“It gives us all our freedoms,” she said. “I think freedom of speech is the most important so we can say anything we want to.”

Student Zach Sturgill said he thinks the Second Amendment is the most important.

“The right to bear arms is so that you can protect yourself,” he said.

Rodriguez said the country would be a very different place if the Constitution had not been adopted.

“I feel if the Constitution wasn’t signed, all of us, we wouldn’t have independence, freedom of speech or anything like that,” he said.