Linked Together (2nd Grade)

K, 1, 2

United States citizens not only have individual rights as citizens but also responsibilities. It is important for children to learn how local governments balance these individual rights with the common good to solve local community problems. With these skills, students will be able to get along better in their classroom, neighborhood and community if they do their duty as good citizens.

PrintOne 45 minute class Period

The learners will:

  • illustrate eight citizen rights.
  • define responsible.
  • define nationality.
  • state that people who are born in American are called American Citizens.
  • list the responsibilities of American citizens.
  • 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper for each student
  • Pencil and crayons
  • Many 2 x 8 ½ strips of red, white and blue construction paper
  • Glue
  • Pencils

Have the students cut out a snowflake. Remind students that no two snowflakes are alike, so all snowflake designs will be acceptable. Have the students, using a crayon or marker; write a word on their snowflake that represents how they felt while participating in the service activity.  When each student has completed placing their “feeling” word on their snowflake, have them each share their word with the class. After everyone has had an opportunity to share, place all the snowflakes on display to simulate a snowman and title the display “Building Together.” Say that just as it takes lots of snow flakes to build a snowman it takes a lot of helping hands to make the service project a success.


  1. Note: This portion of the lesson is written with the assumption that all of the children in the class are United States citizens. If this is not the case, acknowledge that there are different ways that people can become citizens of the United States (U.S.) and citizens have specific rights.

    Anticipatory Set: Ask: What does the word nationality mean? (Belonging to particular country by origin, birth or naturalization) Tell the children that families living in the United States are from many different nations. Ask: What nationality are you? (American, German, Asian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean.)

  2. Tell the class: If you were born in the United States, you are a United States citizen. If you were not born in the United States then there are several ways that people can become a U.S. citizen.

  3. Ask: What is a citizen? (A citizen is a person who belongs to a community or country.) People from other countries often want to move to the U.S. because U.S. citizens have certain rights that people living in other countries may not have. We are going to learn about some of those rights and the responsibilities that go along with them.

  4. Give each student an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of white paper. The paper should be folded top to bottom creating four horizontal rows and then folded once side to side creating eight boxes.

  5. Have each student write their name and the word "rights' on the top of their page. (i.e., Mary’s Rights, Jacob’s Rights). Explain that they will be drawing illustrations in the boxes of eight of their citizenship rights. As the class works together they should make just simple pencil sketches.You may need to model these sketches on a display board for the children. At the end of the lesson allow students to add color and details to their drawing.

    • The first right is the right to go to a place of worship (such as a mosque, synagogue or church) of your choice. In the first box draw a picture of a place of worship.
    • In the second box draw a picture of yourself saying what you want to say because the second right is freedom of speech.
    • In the third box draw your house and something that you own, because you have the right to live where you want to and the right to own things.
    • The fourth right is 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, sports team, etc.)
    • Your fifth right as a United States citizen is that you have the right to go to school. Draw our school.
    • Our sixth right is that 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 whom you want to be mayor, governor or even the President of the United States. Draw a picture of you voting.
    • The seventh right you have is to have a trial by jury. Ask: 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.
    • The eighth right you have as a U.S. 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.
  6. Have the students share their drawings with a friend, telling what each right means.

  7. 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. 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 and also responsibilities.

  8. 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 responsibilities.

  9. Earlier in this lesson we learned about our rights as United States citizens. Ask: What did you think of those rights? Are they good rights to have? Along with those rights we have something else as citizens: responsibilities. United States citizens have to be able to respond (point to the words respond and able on the board again) to needs in their community and the country.

  10. Tell the class that you are going to give them clues to discover the responsibilities we have as citizens. As each clue is given and discussed, write the responsibility on the display 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 United States 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 the breakfast and lunch 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 throwing 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 "be nice" to others.) 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.
  11. Tell the class that they are going to make a community chain. Explain that a country or community can be made better when citizens take responsibility for making things better. Tell them that 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.

  12. Give three or four strips of construction paper to each student. Ask them to copy from the display board one responsibility of a citizen on each strip. When the students finish writing on their strips, tell 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 responsibility links as they like.

  13. Marvel at how everyone worked together to make the chain very long. Explain that 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.

  14. Tell students that they will have many different opportunities throughout the year to work together with classmates to be responsible community members.


Give one point for each picture on the Rights poster with a maximum of eight points for the task.

Cross Curriculum 

Students make a plan to work together to make the classroom community stronger.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.