Americans not only have rights as citizens but also responsibilities. It is important for children to learn about these responsibilities at an early age. Students will be able to get along better in their classroom, neighborhood and community if they do their duty as good citizens.
The learner will:
- define “responsible.”
- list duties and responsibilities of American citizens.
- Many 2 x 8 ½ strips of red, white and blue construction paper
Weblos Scout Book. Irving, Texas: Boys Scouts of America, 1991.
The teacher will write the words “respond” and “able” on the board. Ask: What does it mean to “respond?” (to answer a question, or take action) What does “able” mean? (you can do something) If you are able to respond, you are responsible. What responsibilities do you have at home? What are you expected to do? (Possible answers may include: feed a pet, clean room, pick up toys.) So as a family member you have duties or responsibilities.
Tell: Yesterday we learned about our rights as American citizens. Ask: What did you think of those rights? Are they good rights to have? Review the rights and let the students respond. Tell: Along with those rights we have something else: responsibilities, or sometimes they are called duties. Americans have to be able to respond (point to the words respond and able on the board again) to the duties of being an American citizen.
Have the students brainstorm a list of possible citizen duties. Write the list on one side of the chalkboard. Remind students that these are the duties of everyone in America. Write down all of their ideas. Go over the list to see if any of the following duties are in some way mentioned:
- Obey laws
- Respect the rights and things of others
- Help police
- Serve on a jury
- Pay taxes
- Keep informed on what is going on around you
- Help change things that are not good
- Help save America’s natural resources
If any of these are vaguely referred to, move them over to a second list on the other side of the board. Discuss them at this time. Otherwise continue with the lesson as follows:
Tell the class that you will be giving them clues to discover the other duties we have as citizens. As each clue is given and discussed, add the duty to the list on the board.
- Clue #1: What are you doing when you drive the speed limit or don’t steal things from stores? You are obeying the law. We have a law that tells us to drive at the speed shown on signs. We have another law that says not to take anything that is not yours. Write “obey laws” on the new list of actual citizen responsibilities.
- Clue #2: What are you doing when you don’t push people out of line or read their diary? You don’t destroy or take their things. You are respecting the rights and things of others. The second responsibility of American citizenship is to respect the rights and things of others. Add to the list “respect the rights and things of others.”
- Clue #3: What would you do if you saw a robber running away from the police? You saw where the robber went but the police didn’t. If you told the police where the robber went, you would be helping the police. Write “help the police” on the list.
- Clue #4: What is it called when you are a part of a group that helps decide the facts in a trial? (a jury). You have a duty to serve on a jury. Write “serve on a jury.”
- Clue #5: Does anybody know what taxes are? (Taxes are money that people pay to the government.) When you become an adult, it will be your duty to pay taxes. Write “pay taxes” on the board. The government uses the money to build roads and support school programs like Head Start and the breakfast program.
- Clue #6: What is it called when you pick the person you want to be president? (vote) Add “vote” to the list. All citizens have the right to vote but also the responsibility to take part in the country by voting.
- Clue #7: What are you doing when you watch the news or read the paper? You are “keeping informed” of what is going on around you. Add to the list.
- Clue #8: If you saw someone letting the water run while they were brushing their teeth, what would you say to them? (Don’t waste water.) What if someone was dumping garbage into the lake, what would you tell them? (Don’t, we want clean water.) Water is one of our natural resources. Natural resources are things in nature that we need to survive. They are shared by all of us. Write and say: It is our responsibility to “protect and preserve our natural resources.”
- Clue #9: What do you do when you see something that is not good, like the playground is full of garbage or learners are teasing another learner? (Pick up the garbage and tell the learners to leave the learner alone.) What you would be doing is changing things that are not good. This, too, is your duty as a citizen. Add “change things that are not good” to the list of duties.
Tell the class that we are going to make a community chain. Explain that a country or community is held together because citizens do their duty. Ask students what it would be like if people did not do these duties. Let them respond.
Tell: Chains are made of links. When the links are attached to each other they make a chain. A chain is strong and hard to break. A community is formed by responsible citizens linked together like a chain. Everyone does their part.
Give three or four strips of construction paper to each student. Ask them to write one duty of a citizen on each strip. When the students finish writing on their strips, instruct them to work together to make a chain. Allow students time to write and attach their links to make one long community chain. Have extra strips available so students can write as many duty links as they like.
Marvel at how everyone worked together to make the chain very long. If we each made our own chain it would have taken a longer time to make it this length. Display the community chain in the classroom.
Assessment will be based on teacher observation of student participation in both the discussion and the activity.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
Benchmark E.6 Identify and describe fundamental democratic principles.
Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.