Kid’s Craic: We the People of the United States
By Megan Lardie
When I think about summer, I always look forward to The Fourth of July! It is one of my favorite holidays. Over the years, I have become more amazed at what the Founding Fathers were able to understand about what would be needed in order for the United States to become a great nation.
The Declaration of Independence’s main purpose was to explain to the rest of the world that the colonists (the people who had left their own country) had a right to the revolution against Great Britain. A great country also needed laws for its citizens to abide by.
It was not until 1787 that the Constitution of the United States was written. The Constitution is the highest law in the United States. It says how the government is to work. It creates the Presidency, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.
The Constitution can be changed. Any time it is changed, it is called an amendment. Amendments are rights of people in this country. The government cannot violate these rights. The first ten amendments are important, and they are called the Bill of Rights.
So, it is fascinating that laws that were written over 200 years ago are still in effect! How many do you know? As of today, there are twenty-seven amendments.
The first amendment everyone always knows. It states that you can practice any religion you want. This is one reason many of the colonists left their homelands. The government cannot make laws that focus on specific religious practices or block people’s worship.
It also states that you have the right to free speech, and that you can gather in a group peacefully. The second amendment states that you have a right to a well-regulated militia (group of men who protect the village) and the right to bear and keep arms. It was important to have a way to protect yourself back then.
Did you know that during the Revolutionary War, soldiers could have stayed at your house even if you did not want them to? The third amendment makes that illegal now.
The fourth amendment states that your home or property cannot be searched without a reason and a warrant (a statement from a judge that says there is a reason to search). Sorry, that does not apply to you if your parents want to search your room!
The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth amendments have to do with your rights if you have been accused and convicted of a crime. Those are some of the big ones.
Did you know that these laws did not apply to every person living in the United States at the time they were written? Even though the Founding Fathers had planned out these rights, times change and therefore changes have been added to the Constitution. When this was written, only white men were allowed to vote.
It was not until 1870, when the 15th amendment was ratified (approved by Congress), that all men, regardless of race, color, or if they used to be a slave, were allowed to vote. And it was not until the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 that women were allowed to vote!
After the first ten, there have only been seventeen amendments added, and one actually reversed itself. The last amendment was ratified in 1992 and was actually introduced to Congress by James Madison in 1789. The United States of America is a country like no other!
Kids in the Kitchen
4th of July Flag
Ingredients: Strawberries, blueberries, frosting or Cool Whip, graham crackers
- Assemble flags onto the graham crackers using frosting or Cool Whip as glue.
- Add blueberries as stars, add strawberries for the stripes.
For Which We Stand by Jeff Foster
If you have ever wanted a book that explains our government in a way that you can understand, give this a read. It answers all of your questions like: What exactly is the Electoral College? What is the Constitution? Why was the Declaration of Independence written?
This book, written by a teacher, gives the complete backstory on how our government works and how people have worked with and protested against our government to improve the lives of all American citizens. For ages 8-12.
What Does the Constitution Say? by M. J. Slate
The Constitution is four pages long, and helped shape our nation, but do you know what it actually says? Do you know what it means for you? This book is based on facts and is written in a way kids can understand. For ages 5-10.
Q. I follow you all the time and copy your every move, but you can’t touch me or catch me. What am I? A. Your shadow.
Q. Why does ice cream always get invited to the party?
A. Because it’s cool.
Gab in Gaelic
Nothing is done without effort = Tada gan iarracht (pron. taw-dah gonn ear-ockt)