Don't know much about history ... OK, that's not exactly what we want our kids to be saying. So here are three ways to get kids of all ages engaged in U.S. history, on family movie night and beyond.
1. Check out an interactive Constitution with translation
You might not be able to get to the National Archives yet, but you can show your kids the pages of George Washington's annotated copy of the Committee of Style draft constitution by heading over to these pages at the Library of Congress. Zoom in on the manuscript pages and learn about the history of each component through this online exhibit called Creating the United States Constitution.
2. Explore a more perfect union
The U.S. Constitution did not, of course, ensure a perfect union. To teach history well, we must explore how the American experience of all the people who have lived in our nation. Through this interactive experience, explore the history of Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution. Through music, documents, old photos and personal stories, experience a pivotal and painful era of American history and the changes it spurred.
3. Watch the movie National Treasure!
This one is good for #ConstitutionDay or any family movie night! Nicholas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger and Christopher Plummer star in this 2004 Walt Disney Pictures adventure/heist film about Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure using — what else? — clues, codes and maps.
Even though it's obviously Hollywood, kids will learn a ton from this high-energy film, which rockets from Ancient Egypt through the mysterious and well-guarded legends of the Knights Templar and American Freemasons (yes, it is Hollywood) to the modern and fascinating care and curation practices for the Declaration of Independence. Kids will pick up bits of history and also learn about code-breaking (even if it is Hollywood code) and historical document preservation. Common Sense Media rates the film good for ages 9 and older; we think it's fine for 7 and up. There's also a sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets.