“Good Citizen” Contest
Elementary Grades (K-5)

The information here is designed to provide ideas for putting on a “Good Citizen or Citizenship Award Contest” for students in grades K – 5.

The goals of such a contest are to:

  • make students aware that they are citizens of a country and that citizens in a democracy have a critical role in ensuring the country stays free and safe.
  • help students understand the types of actions required of them to be effective citizens and that citizenship goes well beyond voting, jury duty and community service.
  • give students the belief that individual actions make a difference and that being a good citizen can be fun and rewarding.

The competition is also designed to give students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and presentation skills.

The general approach is to have students perform a small number of  grade-appropriate citizen actions and report their experiences. The specific citizen actions and the way they are reported by the students will vary by grade-level (i.e. K-1, 2-3 & 4-5).

For example, the citizen actions for K-1 might be:

  1. Wave to a Policeman,
  2. Pick up a piece of trash each day and
  3. Talk with your grandparents about what it was like to grow up for them and how the country has changed.

Participation in the contest could be optional for students. It is assumed that the classroom teacher would manage the contest for their class and co-ordinate with the sponsoring organization if the contest is more than a classroom contest.

  1. Teacher gives a short lesson on citizenship – see “Intro to Being a Good Citizen” (to be developed) on the Good Citizen website – goodcitizen.org.
  2. Teacher introduces the Good Citizen Award Contest – goals, length, what’s involved, kid’s role, awards, who sponsor is, etc. The teacher may have a hand-out explaining the contest for the parents.
  3. Teacher determines which citizen actions will be undertaken – see grade- level suggestions below.
  4. Teacher explains what each citizen action is and how to do it and provides other appropriate guidance.
  5. Teacher explains that at end of time limit (i.e. week, month, etc.), each student will:
    • turn-in a “report” on their experiences – see grade-level suggestions below.
    • tell the class about one or two of the citizen actions they performed – what they did, what reactions they received if anyone else was involved, what they learned, was it fun or hard, how it helps keep the country strong or free.
Grade Level Citizen Actions to Perform Reporting on Experience

Teacher selects 2-3 CAs and writes on board.

Students perform selected CAs.

Students turn in drawing of each CA with name of CA on top of page.


Teacher selects 2-3 CAs and hands out a list of them.

Students perform selected CAs.

Students turn in a 2 page, handwritten, report summarizing their experience in doing the CAs.  Report can focus on all or a few of the CAs.

Teacher select about 12 CAs, ensuring at least one from each CA category, and hands out list.

Teacher makes class aware of Good Citizen website – www.goodcitizen.org– as a resource.

Each student chooses 4-5 CAs.

Students turn in 2 page typed report (3-4 pages if handwritten) summarizing their experience in performing the CAs. Report can focus on all or a few of the CAs

Depends on the scope of the contest (i.e. a class versus a grade level versus an elementary school).

Typically, the classroom teacher would evaluate the work of her students and select the top work and forward it to the grade-level or school-level for competition among the others.  The number carried forward would of course depend on the scope of the contest.

At some point, the sponsoring organization would get the work of the finalists, evaluate their work and select contest winners.  The sponsoring organization could be a class, a grade-level or an elementary school; or a service organization like Rotary, Kiwanis, Boy Scouts; or city or private-sector organization.

Depending on the size of the competition, the Executive Director of Good Citizen could evaluate responses and make recommendations to the sponsoring organization.  The number of recommendations will be tied to the “prize/award” structure of the competition.

For everyone (one or more)

  • A “Be A Good Citizen” sticker to everyone who participates – see the Good Citizen website – www.goodcitizen.org – to view them and find out ways to acquire them.
  • A Good Citizen certificate of participation – see the Good Citizen website – www.goodcitizen.org. (under development)

For Prize Winners (one or more)

  • A gift certificate to a store like Borders.
  • A book or CD – something appropriate and fun for the student, not necessarily related to being a Good Citizen.
  • Their names on classroom bulletin board and in school newsletter.
  • Principal can recognize winners as part of morning announcement or on school website.
  • If contest sponsored by outside organization, winners could attend sponsoring organization meeting with parents and possibly teacher or principal depending on scope of contest.