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Understanding and Teaching the United States Constitution and Failure in Philadelphia? Review by Danielle Lenz

Catherine Jaime
Creative Learning Connection

"And in the end, they had indeed written their new document, a form of government like no one had ever seen" (Catherine McGrew Jaime, Failure in Philadelphia?). 

The United States Constitution is one of the most critical documents in our history- but do you know the story of how it came to be? Catherine McGrew Jaime has written a delightful tale illuminating the historic Constitutional Convention from the perspective of a British spy. In addition to this informative yet entertaining tale, she has gifted us with Understanding and Teaching the United States Constitution- a precious resource for anyone who wants to dive deeper into their understanding of the Constitution and help others do the same. Failure in Philadelphia? is a quick read- 132 pages with a friendly, large font and wide margins perfect for notetaking. Understanding and Teaching the United States Constitution is 165 pages and includes a complete copy of The Constitution, The Articles of Confederation, The Bill of Rights, poems, songs, and several other documents that inspired members of the Constitutional Convention. She also includes simple, easy-to-understand explanations and notes to help you comprehend each of these documents. I had never actually read many of these documents, and I found it highly informative and helpful in developing my understanding of these essential documents. There are also lesson plans and activities included in the back of the book.

Both books are available today on Amazon. Failure in Philadelphia can be purchased for the Kindle for $2.99 or in a paperback version for $7.99. It is also available as an audiobook!

Understanding and Teaching the United States Constitution can be purchased for the Kindle for $3.99 or in paperback for $16.00. You can visit Creative Learning Connection for more information about Catherine McGrew Jaime and her published works.

Both books offer several possibilities for homeschooling use. I very much enjoyed reading Failure in Philadelphia? on my own time, but it could also be used as a read-aloud for the whole family. I would recommend it for ages 9+. Because we have been focusing on United States History in our history lessons this year, I have added this book to my eldest son's summer reading list. I am excited to see the connections he makes between the story and our lessons. Although the author imagined the British characters, she kept everything else true to fact and only included events that occurred during the convention. I found myself learning fun little bits of information about Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and James Madison that I had never known before- Catherine had me googling, "Did George Washington really love to dance?"

Understanding and Teaching the United States Constitution was the perfect book to accompany Failure in Philadelphia? Anytime a document or event was referenced in the story that I did not quite remember or understand, I was able to look in this handy guide and read the historical background and frequently the full document itself. This guide is a fantastic resource for anyone planning to teach about the Constitution. Not only does it help immensely with understanding the Constitution, but it provides well-thought-out lesson plans and printable activities right in the book! There are word searches, word matching, crosswords, and quizzes (with answer keys!) in the back of the book, ready for copying. I found myself highlighting and dog-earring several pages for use with my children in our history lessons! 

In future editionsI would love to see the book sections separated more clearly with a chapter title page (documents, notes, lesson plans, activities, etc.) with a table of contents to look up specific events and documents easier. Aside from that, I found it very well-written and a fabulous resource for the homeschool mom. To anyone who wants a greater understanding of our great country's Constitution, or anyone embarking on the journey of teaching the Constitution to others, I highly recommend both books. I am grateful to her for sharing her knowledge and giving me a boost of confidence when attempting to teach this to my own children.

-Product review by Danielle Lenz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2021