Civics Lessons

Teaching Standard: Role of the Citizen in American Democracy

Prepare for Trial

In this lesson, students will learn about the relationship between constitutional rights and fair and unbiased jury selection. Students will focus on the process for selecting members of a jury. In addition, they will learn vocabulary relevant to understanding court proceedings, which they will apply in making juror selections. Throughout the main activities and lesson extensions, students will investigate the relationship between constitutional rights and fair and unbiased jury selection.

Teaching How Citizens Influence Public Policy

Target Grades: 4-6
In this lesson, students use a school policy to define policy, understand that policies change, and recognize what and who influences policy making and changes.

Who can Vote for Student Council President?

Students review hypothetical scenarios and decide who may vote for student council president. Students review constitutional principles states must follow when deciding who can vote.

Appreciating Democracy

This lesson is designed to teach students to appreciate the most basic practices of democracy in the United States: The lesson can be taught in three or four 45-minute class periods. At the heart of the lesson are three easy-to-teach activities (or simulations).

Becoming an Informed Voter: Preparing for the General Election

This lesson focuses on a voter’s need to be fully informed prior to casting a vote on Election Day and how to acquire the necessary information. Students learn what a yes or no vote or a decision to abstain means on a ballot. Students learn the definitions of amendment,initiative, and referendum. Students are given the opportunity to think critically and to learn firsthand why voters need to be fully informed about ballot questions.

A Kid’s Guide to Running for President

Students will read about the election process and correctly put the steps in proper sequence. Students will participate in a debate on an issue that relates to their day-to-day school experience.

Civil Conversation on the 14th Amendment

This lesson uses the Civil Conversation strategy to have students take a closer reading of Section 1 of the Amendment

Becoming a Voter

In this lesson, students apply what they learn about their state’s requirements for registering to vote. Students learn when and how to register, how to complete a voter registration form, and when and how to re-register.

Yertle the Turtle Mock Trial

This mock trial exposes students to the mechanics of a jury trial, and stresses the importance of functioning as a juror.

2nd Amendment and the Courts

After reading and discussion of federal gun policies and proposals, their pros and cons, and the Second Amendment, students debate the merits of different gun policies.

The Jury System

In this lesson, students identify pros and cons of jury trials and judge-only trials, plus develop and respond to questions that might help to ensure the selection of a fair and unbiased jury.

The Need for Laws: Planet Lawless

This activity will help students understand the need for rules, the rulemaking process, and the role of the student / citizen. Students will be introduced to the relationship between rules and laws and how citizens can establish laws in their communities, much like rules in the classroom, to help them live together.

The Presidency

Students develop an understanding of the qualities of a leader and begin to see themselves as leaders. Students will learn about and understand who can become president and what his/her duties would be as president.

The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Communicating with the President

Through several activities, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own duties as citizens of a democracy

The Vote

Students will better understand the concept of the Electoral College by participating in a mock Electoral College vote.

What Is A Good Rule? Creating Our Ballot Questions

This lesson offers students the opportunity to play the role of voters with special interests. Students draw up initiatives for new classroom or school rules. Working in groups of four or five, students share their ideas and rationale for new rules.

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