Celebrate Freedom Week

The History and Text of Constitution Day and Celebrate Freedom Week

In compliance with federal statute, Constitution Day is observed each year on September 17 as a commemoration of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.

This practice originated in 1940, when Congress passed a joint resolution requesting the President to issue annually a proclamation to deem the third Sunday in May for public acknowledgment of those who had achieved American citizenship. This was designated as “I Am An American Day.” This observance became known as “Citizenship Day.”

In 1952 Congress changed the date of observance to September 17 to coincide with the day the Constitution was ratified and urged educational leaders to make plans for observance of that day, yet the date remained about a commemoration of citizenship and was still designated as “Citizenship Day.”

In 2004 Congress changed the title of the day to “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.” Congress also added new requirements for observance of the day. One was for the head of every federal agency to provide employees with training materials related to the Constitution and the other was to require that schools receiving federal funding hold programs for students on September 17th. This has now come to be known as “Constitution Day.”

In 2001, the Texas Legislature mandated that social studies classrooms observe Celebrate Freedom Week during the week of September 17 by passing legislation that reads:

(A) Each social studies class shall include, during Celebrate Freedom Week as provided under the TEC, §29.907, or during another full school week as determined by the board of trustees of a school district, appropriate instruction concerning the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. The study of the Declaration of Independence must include the study of the relationship of the ideas expressed in that document to subsequent American history, including the relationship of its ideas to the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants, the American Revolution, the formulation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women's suffrage movement.

(B) Each school district shall require that, during Celebrate Freedom Week or other week of instruction prescribed under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, students in Grades 3-12 study and recite the following text: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

Possible Activities to Commemorate Celebrate Freedom Week

  • Picture books – Read picture books to students about the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution to facilitate a discussion about the intent, meaning, and importance of the documents.
  • Collages - After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students create a collage with words and pictures to illustrate the important ideas included in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
  • Daily announcements – After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students write a series of daily school announcements for use during Celebrate Freedom Week.
  • Public Service Announcement(s) - After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students create a public service announcement promoting the importance of knowing your rights. Students would benefit from examining models of public service announcements and instruction in how they are produced.
  • Bulletin boards - After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students decorate bulletin boards around the school to inform about the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
  • Games - After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students create a board game or a mockup of a potential video game.
  • Letter writing - After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students write a letter to a friend in another country explaining the importance of the founding documents to Americans.
  • Rewriting - After instruction about the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights students rewrite the Preamble or the recited paragraph from the Declaration of Independence in student friendly language.
  • Simulation – Students recreate the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Several websites have materials for conducting such a simulation.
  • Citizen Bee – Conduct a school wide Citizen Bee to select three winners to advance to the regional competition. Resources are available at citizenbee.org.
  • History Club/Student Council – Form a student organization that works to inform the school community about Celebrate Freedom Week and other observances and commemorations in a variety of ways including announcements, posters, social media, etc.

Resources for Celebrate Freedom Week

There are many resources for teaching about the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. These are just a few examples.


Books related to Celebrate Freedom Week Topics

  • We the Kids illustrated by David Catrow
  • The Journey of the one and only Declaration of Independence by Judith St. George
  • What’s the Big Deal About Freedom by Ruby Shamir and Matt Faulkner
  • A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro
  • Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
  • We the People: The Constitution of the United States by Peter Spier
  • A Kids' Guide to America's Bill of Rights: Curfews, Censorship, and the 100-Pound Giant by Kathleen Krull