The Democracy Project

for Parents & Teachers

Resources and information about "The Democracy Project"...

Citizenship City

Subjects: Social Studies

Estimated Time of Completion: seven to eight fifty minute class periods

  1. I. Summary
  2. II. Objectives
  3. III. Materials Needed
  4. IV. Procedure
  5. V. Classroom Assessment
  6. VI. Extensions and Adaptations
  7. VII. Relevant Standards

I. Summary

This lesson begins a process of helping students visualize their town's government as a very important part of their everyday existence?a part that they can influence. Students will define the term "citizenship" and be encouraged to become a productive citizen by participating in community service. Students will be given this opportunity through Web research and a participatory activity (distributing candy with student-made community service awareness stickers and wrappers) promoting civic responsibility. Students will identify characteristics of a good citizen and learn to appreciate how community service can benefit their town.

II. Objectives

  • Students will develop social skills such as citizenship, honesty, respect for others, kindness, cooperation, generosity, courtesy and respect for home, school and community.
  • Students will help others by enthusiastically participating in a public service activity.
  • Students will improve their reading, spelling, vocabulary, grammar skills and technology skills.
  • Students will recognize the need for rules and government.
  • Students will recognize the need for good citizenship and civic responsibility.

III. Materials Needed

  • Computers with Internet access
  • For classroom bulletin board: colored paper backing
  • For decorating candy and bulletin board: tape, glue, stapler, scissors, rulers
  • For stickers or wrappers: candy, candy bars, labels and paper
  • Optional for creating buttons: buttons, button maker, paper cutter, stickers (either computer-generated or commercial)

IV. Procedure

  1. Begin by asking the students to come up with a symbol of the profession in which they would like to work (stethoscope for doctors, chalk for teachers, books for authors, etc.). The students should then hold a "mock class reunion" where they introduce themselves to the rest of the class and tell what they have been doing as a profession (snacks may even be served). List those professions on the board as students present their jobs. Then, question students about the missing professions. For example, what if there were no doctors or police officers?
  2. Assess the students' prior knowledge with questions like, "Who are the helpers in our community?" "What do good citizens and good neighbors do for each other?" Brainstorm a list of community helpers. Students will then generalize a definition of citizenship and community service.
  3. Students will create bulletin board entitled "Citizenship City." Each student will be given a pattern of a small house. Students will decorate their houses and put their names on them. At the bottom of their houses, they will write their own "Citizenship Pledge" explaining a way that they, as students, plan to fulfill community responsibility. Examples will be given in class and might include:
    • cleaning up the neighborhood playground
    • expanding household recycling
    • donating goods to the local homeless shelter
  4. Students should conduct some basic research about their area of community service. For example, if their pledge involves recycling, students might research how many households are in the local community, how many tons of garbage are hauled away each year, etc. Students will use their newly-acquired knowledge to cooperatively and enthusiastically participate in a community project that will reinforce the students' knowledge about their chosen area of citizenship (recycling, pollution, visiting those in need, etc). Students will design wrappers, stickers, buttons, and/or labels to urge local citizens to take a more active role in the community.
  5. Students will first use rulers, pencils and papers to measure the size of wrappers that they need for standard candy bars.
  6. Students may use a desktop publishing program or create candy wrappers freehand. Students may also use the computer to print stickers that can be attached to smaller pieces of candy. These stickers will also carry messages associated with the student's chosen community service project.
  7. If a button maker is available in the school, software and computers can also be used to design buttons promoting and providing encouragement for community service.
  8. The candy (with student-designed wrappers or stickers) will be distributed to encourage and motivate people to participate in their community. The finished student created items could be distributed by passing them out at a school assembly, government meeting or at the library, thus increasing community awareness. This would serve as a gentle reminder about civic responsibilities.
  9. As a concluding activity for this lesson, students will visit the online activity, "Inside The Voting Booth." The teacher should explain to students that this activity emphasizes voting?a community service that all students can promise to do in the future. Students can use this Web site to complete customized, printable voter reminders.

IV. Classroom Assessment

Although classroom assessment differs from teacher to teacher, the following rubrics should provide ideas. Students could be asked to assess themselves and evaluate if they are better citizens having participated in a community service project. They also could evaluate if they have lived up to their original pledge on the bulletin board: have they, as students, met their individual pledge to community service? The following criteria would also provide a broad overview and evaluation of the project.

  • Excellent: Student participated in creating the bulletin board. He or she contributed good ideas and carried out classroom directions. He or she was very creative, original, and accurate with producing candy bar wrappers, labels, stickers and buttons. The student met deadlines, worked cooperatively, helped others, and readily suggested ideas. He or she was kind to others, enjoyed the community work, and showed enthusiasm about promoting community service.
  • Good: The student participated in creating the bulletin board. He or she contributed ideas and carried out most classroom directions. The student sought information about participation in community service and government, although he or she may have had to seek help. The student was creative and original as he or she produced candy bar wrappers, labels, stickers and buttons. He or she shared this information with others.
  • Fair: The student participated in creating the bulletin board although his or her ideas were not original. He or she contributed ideas and carried out most classroom directions. The student may have had some problems with classroom rules. He or she sought information about participation in community service and government, although he or she needed continual help and supervision. The student produced candy bar wrappers, labels, stickers and buttons. He or she shared this information with others.
  • Poor: The student may not have participated in creating the bulletin board. He or she didn't contribute ideas, and did not carry out classroom directions. The student sought information about participation in community service and government only with constant supervision and urging. He or she produced candy bar wrappers, labels, stickers and buttons only after much help and supervision had been given. The student did not complete all required work.

V. Extensions and Adaptations

  • Create and give "Good Citizens" awards to people in the community.
  • Talk with senior citizens about citizenship in previous decades and about how one could be a good neighbor or an outstanding member of society.
  • Discuss citizenship in its legal sense: the steps in becoming a citizen, taking the citizenship test, talking to recent naturalized citizens in the area. Students might try the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization's "Naturalization Self-Test." Does the test reflect students' original definitions of "citizenship"? Why or why not?

VII. Relevant National Standards

These are established by McREL:

Language Arts

  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning


  • Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs including the Internet


  • Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of measurement

Social Studies

  • Understands ideas about civic life, politics and government
  • Knows the fundamental principles of American democracy (e.g., the people are sovereign; the power of government is limited by law; people exercise their authority directly through voting; people exercise their authority indirectly through elected representatives)
  • Knows how the values and principles of American democracy can be promoted through participating in government (e.g., voting, keeping informed about public issues, writing to legislators, serving on juries)
  • Understands the importance of voluntarism as a characteristic of American society (e.g., people should volunteer to help others in their family, schools, communities, state, nation and the world; volunteering is a source of individual satisfaction and fulfillment)
  • Knows how people can participate in their state and local government (e.g., being informed, taking part in discussing issues, voting, volunteering their time) and understands why it is important that people participate in their state and local government (e.g., improve the quality of life in their community, gain personal satisfaction, prevent officials from abusing power)
  • Understands why it is important for citizens to monitor their local, state and national governments; and knows ways people can monitor the decisions and actions of their government such as reading about public issues, watching television news programs, discussing public issues, etc.