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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Celebrate the Constitution

Property Rights in America

Being an American: Exploring the Ideals That Unite Us

Bill of Rights Institute
www.billofrightsinstitute.org

703-894-1776
200 North Glebe Road, Suite 200
Arlington, Virginia 22203


The Bill of Rights Institute is an organization devoted to teaching young people about the founding principles of the United States. The Institute develops educational materials on the founding documents of American history for use in high school American History and Civics classrooms.

I recently had the opportunity to review three publications from the Bill of Rights Institute: Property Rights in America, Celebrate the Constitution, and Being an American: Exploring the Ideals That Unite Us.

Property Rights in America is a thirty-nine-page booklet containing three lessons on property rights. It is intended to take one week to complete. Students learn about the "tragedy of the commons," intellectual property, foundations of private property protections, and more. Excerpts from work by noted Americans such as Samuel Adams and James Madison help students to understand how important private property rights were to our Founding Fathers. Activities and case studies are used throughout the booklet. An answer key is included at the end. The booklet is designed for classroom use, and many of the activities would be difficult to complete in a home setting with only a student or two. However, there is a wealth of information contained in the booklet. Many homeschoolers would find it worthwhile to use, even if many of the activities have to be modified.

Celebrate the Constitution is a twenty-page booklet. In it students learn how the Constitution came into existence, what it says, how a bill becomes a law, and how the Bill of Rights is applicable to daily life in America. Included in the twenty pages is the text of the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights. The activities in this booklet are better suited for use by a single student than the activities in Property Rights in America are. It is a gem of a booklet, jam packed with information. I especially enjoyed the many Founding Fathers quotes that are included.

Being an American: Exploring the Ideals That Unite Us is a 113-page, softcover, spiral-bound book. It contains six lessons that are intended to be completed in eight fifty-minute class periods. However, each lesson is self-contained and can also be used individually and in any order. The intention of the book is to encourage young people to embrace the legacy of American heroes and to rise to the challenges of American citizenship.

The book is rich with quotes by famous Americans, profiles of American heroes, and the complete text of several speeches by famous Americans. Primary sources are analyzed. Discussion questions and student-centered activities help to make the concepts clear to the students. The book is designed for classroom use; therefore many homeschool families will find they need to modify many of the activities to be used with a smaller number of students. The material is so deep and so interesting that in my opinion it is worth it to deal with that minor inconvenience.

Any or all of these materials would make a great supplement to a U.S. History, Government, or Civics class. They are written to the high school level. Advanced junior high students may benefit from them as well. I believe they could be easily adapted for use in a homeschool co-op class setting also.

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to review these books. I recommend them to families wishing to increase their students' understanding of what it means to be an American.



Product review by Whitney Dunahee, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, March 2010


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