Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4

Teaching Citizenship Unit
Lesson 3 - How to be An Effective Citizen

Lesson Objective

Have students:

  • recognize that taking care of things that are important requires constant vigilance,
  • understand what a citizen action is and the six types of citizen actions, and
  • believe in, the impact of a single positive action.


1 - How to appreciate things we value

Teaching Points

  1. Ask the kids how one should/can appreciate something they value and make a list of their answers on the board. Then explain/summarize that the way to appreciate things is to "Take Care of Them.
  2. Then for each item they listed, have them describe:
    a) how to take care of it and
    b) what happens to it if they don't take care of it.

    KEY POINT - One appreciates something by taking care of it.


  • Pass out the "Things I Appreciate Worksheet" and ask the kids to list 5-8 things that are important to them. For example:
    parents, a bike, their eyes, a sibling or friend, their bedroom, a pet, a special place, etc.


2 - Citizen Actions

Teaching Points

  1. Ask students who they think is responsible for keeping the country strong and free. For each group they mention like president, law enforcement, etc. ask them what each group's role is in keeping the country strong.
  2. If "citizens" didn't come up in #1, ask the students what each citizen's role is in keeping the country strong.
  3. Introduce notion of a citizen action using content of the "100 Citizen Actions" section of the site and review 4-6 citizen actions as examples and ask the students to explain how each of the examples helps keep the country strong..
  4. Have the students identify other examples of citizen actions.

    KEY POINTS - Each citizen is ultimately responsible for the strength of a democracy. Citizens take care of the country by doing small things, called citizen actions, on a day-to-day basis.



3 - Citizen Action Categories

Teaching Points

  1. List and explain each of the 6 Citizen Action Categories. Specifically, why the citizen actions in each of the categories help keep the country strong and free.
  2. Help the students organize the various examples of citizen actions into these categories.
  3. Have each student identify 1 or 2 new citizen actions and the citizen action category they fit into..
  4. For each of those citizen actions, have them explain why that action would help keep the country strong.
  5. Email any creative new citizen actions to Good Citizen for possible inclusion on their site.


Complete the "Heritage" and "Democratic Process" Actions Matching Worksheet. Worksheet Answer Key.

Complete the "Special Groups" and "Government" Actions Matching Worksheet. Worksheet Answer Key

Complete the "Sense of Community" and "Individuals and Families" Actions Matching Worksheet. Worksheet Answer Key.


4 - The Impact of a Single Act

Teaching Points

  1. Have the kids pick a citizen action (either one from the developed list or a personal one) and write an essay on why and how that action act can make a difference to the country. Have them use a personal story or observation if possible.
  2. Show the kids the movie "Pay It Forward", if time permits and/or read a few stories from the Individual Stories page in the Pay It Forward website - http://www.payitforwardmovement.org/individuals.html . If computers are available have the kids read them. Another alternative would be to print out a packet of 4-6 of these stories. The stories are inspiring and wonderful!


  1. Complete the "Matching Citizen Actions to Categories" worksheet.