We Have Rights
The Bill of Rights consists of ten amendments to the Constitution. It spells out rights for all United States citizens. The language in the Bill of Rights is difficult for primary students, so this lesson introduces some simple rights and expectations of all Americans. Some immigrants come to America to enjoy rights they might not have experienced in another country. Some immigrants want to become United States citizens because of these protected rights and practices.
The learner will:
- state that his/her nationality is American because s/he is a citizen of the United States of America.
- describe the concepts of voting and trial by jury.
- illustrate eight citizen rights.
- Large sheet of construction paper
- Pencil and crayons
Weblos Scout Book. Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America, 1991. ISBN: 0-8395-3235-0.
Anticipatory Set: Note: This portion of the lesson is written with the assumption that all of the children in the class are U.S. citizens. If this is not the case, be sensitive about using exclusive language. The teacher will tell the class: “In the last lesson, we found out the nationalities of our ancestors. What does nationality mean? (Belonging to a certain country.) What nationality are you? If you went to Australia and someone asked you what your nationality was, what would you say? (American, because this is where you were born.)”
Tell the class, “You are American citizens! What is a citizen? (A citizen is a person who belongs to a community or country.) Immigrants are people who come here to become American citizens. They may want to be U.S. citizens because the U.S. Constitution ensures certain rights for its citizens. Some countries do not have the freedoms and rights that U.S. citizens have. We are going to learn about the rights we have as citizens of the United States.”
Pass out large sheets of construction paper. Have students fold the paper in half, in half again, and in half again so that the paper is divided into eight sections. Supply the class with pencils and crayons. The paper should be lengthwise with four rows going horizontally.
Have each student label the top of the page with his/her Rights (i.e., Mary’s Rights, Jacob’s Rights). Explain that the students will be illustrating the boxes with eight of their citizen rights. (As the class works together they should make just simple pencil sketches. Later on they will have the opportunity to add color and detail. You may need to model these sketches on the chalkboard for the children.)
- Many immigrants come to this country because here you have the right to worship in the way you want. In the first box, draw a picture of a building where people go to worship.
- In the second box, draw a picture of yourself saying what you want to say because another right is freedom of speech.
- In the third box, draw your house and something that you own because you have the right to own property..
- In the fourth box, show that you are able to meet when and where you want to. Draw a picture of yourself at a meeting. What kind of meeting might you go to? (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, team sports, etc.)
- Public education is important in America. You have the right to go to a public school. Draw our school.
- We have the right to vote. We vote on things in class like which book to read or which game to play, but when you are 18 years old you will have the right to vote for who you want to be mayor, governor or even the president of the United States. Draw a picture of you voting.
- Another right you have is to have a trial by jury. What is a jury? (When a group of citizens are chosen to listen to the facts in a court case and decide what is true.) There are between 7 and 12 people on a jury. Draw a court with between 7 and 12 people sitting in the jury box. Have learners define this right to a partner.
- Finally, another right you have as an American citizen is that you may keep people from searching your home unless they have a special paper from a judge called a warrant. Draw a picture of your house with someone standing in front of it with a piece of paper in his/her hand that says “warrant.”
Ask: What rights do we have in the classroom, school, and neighborhood? Accept all reasonable answers. Conclude that we have these rights because the classroom, school, and neighborhood are all communities with expectations about how to treat each other. Define a community (a group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a class or group having common interests and likes). As a community member, we have rights too.
Have the students pair share their pictures and explain the rights they drew to a partner.
Give one point for each picture with a maximum of eight points for the task.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
Benchmark E.6 Identify and describe fundamental democratic principles.
Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.
Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.