Grade 5 Visits Our Constitution

Our Grade 5 students have been studying one of the most important documents in the history of modern civics: The United States Constitution. It is a document that formed our democracy, divides power between the federal government and the states, and shares power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government.

Students have engaged in online lessons through the National Archives, exploring primary and secondary sources to understand how the Constitution also assures a series of individual rights not to be abridged by state or federal governments.

This week, students visited the Archives on the National Mall. They were guided by experts from the National Archives museum, where the original copy of the Constitution is housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

“The trip allowed the students to see the archives building itself as a primary source,” Grade 5 teacher Barbora Bridle explained. “In the architecture, they could see the connection between the Constitution and the Greek roots of American democracy.” There are physical niches in the rotunda left empty by the Archives that allow students to imagine what current or future Americans might deserve a place in this home to the architecture of our federal system of democracy.

In addition to the U.S. Constitution, students saw the Declaration of Independence, which they studied in Grade 4, and were given the chance to recite the Constitution’s preamble.

They also got to see one of the alternate designs for the Lincoln Memorial, which would have set the statue of our 16th president amidst an Egyptian pyramid, a very different context for thinking about Lincoln’s contributions to the meaning of American liberty.