It's a Free Country, Isn't It?

9, 10, 11, 12

While reviewing the expectations for immigrants to become citizens, young people learn about their own rights and civic responsibility. They learn that freedom isn't free. It was purchased by service and requires continued responsibility of citizens to uphold the rights and expectations of the common good. 

PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • describe the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
  • projected copy of Oath of Allegiance for Naturalization (see handouts below)
  • projected copy of 100 Typical Questions (see handouts below)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website provides information on naturalization procedures and includes sample test questions for naturalization.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Brainstorm answers to this question: “What are some reasons people throughout history and today immigrate to the United States?” (political freedom, religious tolerance, economic opportunity, freedom, forced immigration (slavery), safety from oppression, family reunification, jobs, opportunity, to escape persecution, money.)

  2. Just like people have expectations and responsibilities when they join a group, club, or team, there are also expectations and responsibilities when someone joins a nation. These aren't just for someone new; we all have a responsibility to maintain our citizenship. People say that Americans are free, but that doesn't mean we can do anything we want; we have to follow laws and contribute to society. 

  3. Project the Oath of Allegiance to the United States (handout). Immigrants are required to take this oath in order to become a naturalized citizen. Discuss any vocabulary or part of the oath that isn't clear. Discuss why any citizen, not just new citizens, should be able to make this oath.

  4. Say: “In the process of earning their citizenship, immigrants often learn more about United States government than people born here know. Today, we are going to take the naturalization test which immigrants must pass to gain citizenship.”

  5. Distribute copies of 100 Typical Questions (handout). This may be completed individually, in small groups, or as a full group. After completing, discuss the correct answers. Discuss where people learn these facts and why they are important to know. Talk about civic responsibilities, such as voting so all interests are respresented.

  6. Is there a relationship between individual rights that citizens enjoy and community responsibilities? What responsibilities do high school students have toward their country and community?

  7. Write the phrase “Freedom is...” on the board. Give the learners three minutes to free write as many possible completions to the phrase as they can. Ask for volunteers to report on their responses. Discuss their answers.

  8. Lead a discussion on freedom using these questions:

    • How might people of the past have felt about freedom?
    • How do we feel about freedom today?
    • Are there different social and racial freedoms? Make it clear there is no hierarchy of value of people based on race, wealth, education, gender, or beliefs. Nothing makes one person matter more than another. 
    • Is a person in the military, health care, or protective services paying a greater price for freedom? 
    • What should every citizen do to earn their freedom?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.