Use a Finger Mnemonic to Teach the Bill of Rights

Perhaps you’re helping your child with civics homework. Perhaps you have a stubborn kinesthetic learner studying for an exam. Perhaps you’re concerned about a friend who’s planning a protest. Or perhaps you just have a hard time getting your family interested in anything law-related, even when it involves them.

Whatever the reason, you know it can never hurt to empower yourself and your loved ones by knowing your rights and the government’s limitations. The problem is it can be tough to put the complexities in the Bill of Rights into plain words. It can also be hard for most people to retain all the information once they do manage to understand it, even with your help. What are your rights, exactly? How many freedoms are there in the First Amendment? What’s the difference between your rights under the Federal Government and your rights according to the states? You may know, but all this can be difficult for others to keep straight, especially if you’re dealing with a kinesthetic learner who needs more than just words on paper to learn.

Well, no matter why you may want some help teaching the Bill of Rights, it doesn’t have to be a chore. We’ve found a YouTube video that can help with that. This is Keith Hughes, a longtime teacher, and he’ll be demonstrating how to use your hands to better retain information on the sections of this important document that are relevant to the general public. Be warned, you’ll look a little funny if someone spots you performing them.

Got that? For those who can’t view videos right now, these are the main points:

  • Use the ten fingers on both your hands to remember how many amendments there are
  • Use the five fingers on one hand to remember how many freedoms there are in the First Amendment.
  • Use the index finger of that hand to remember the First Amendment’s freedoms.
  • Use your thumb and index finger to remember the Second Amendment is about guns.
  • Curl four of your fingers together and knock, to remember the Fourth Amendment is about privacy.
  • Cover your mouth with your five fingers to remember that the Fifth Amendment is about your right to remain silent.
  • Mime touching a watch with your index finger to remember that the Sixth Amendment is about your right to a speedy trial.
  • The Eighth Amendment and Tenth Amendment are the only ones that don’t involve your fingers. Just imagine two nooses forming the numeral 8 to remember it being about penalties.
  • Imagine the last reserved seat in a restaurant for the Tenth Amendment to remember that any powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution are reserved for the states to deal with, to limit the powers of the Federal Government. Hughes mentions to kick a chair if you really need to perform an action.

Want some ideas on teaching about the amendments he didn’t cover, or see how to cover the ones he did more comprehensively? Fret not—he’s made an entire YouTube playlist dedicated to it.