Rights vs. privileges.

It’s a privilege to get to ride your bike. This is the privilege that Nicholas chose after he finished his lessons.

Here’s the lesson we did on rights vs. privileges.

First we dealt with rights vs. privileges. I used the following definitions:

A right is something we are given. It cannot be taken away from us.

A privilege is something we earn. It can be taken away, or not given to us.

We the read The Bill of Rights and the Preamble to the Constitution.

Then I printed out the following statements. After reading them, Nicholas had to put a “P” next to the statement if it was a privilege and an “R” next to the statement if it was a right.

Here’s the list of statements:

1. Your dad and mom voted in the election for President of the US.

2. Henry was able to go outside after he finished his homework.

3. Alisa had extra ice cream for good behavior.

4. Jasmin can express her feelings using her freedom of speech.

5. Gregory can practice any religion he chooses.

6. Jessica earned extra computer time today.

7. Paul gets to attend the Fall Festival.

8. Joanna gets to drive a car.

9. If the police come and take Melissa, she will get access to a lawyer and a fair trial.

Then we talked about how a democracy has rights and privileges and a dictatorship you don’t have any rights because the dictator – the leader – can do whatever he wants. Nicholas asked me if our house was a democracy or a dictatorship. I told him it was mostly a dictatorship because Mommy and Daddy have to make the decisions, but sometimes we get to be a democracy, like when he gets to help choose what we are doing that day, or what we have for dinner.

Next, I had Nicholas help me read the following statements. He had to cross out the ones that were a dictatorship and write a D next to the ones that were for democracy. Here are the statements:

1. Mom makes you do your math practice now.

2. Dad asks what you want for lunch.

3. Ana says Zoey has to leave at 4p so she can get home for dinner.

4. I ask you whether you want to play in the sandbox or ride your bike.

5. You get to choose your own clothes.

6. Your grandmother lets you pick what movie to watch.

7. You are not allowed to ride your bike on busy streets.

8. You are not allowed to walk to a friend’s house alone.

9. You pick the ice cream you want at the store.

10. You are not allowed to drive a car until you are 16.

He accurately chose the right one – democracy or dictatorship – for all the statements. I was pretty surprised, but happy.

Our practice words for the lesson were: Democracy, dictatorship, rights, privilege, and government.

We spent our reading time with Cinderella and  The Little Red Hen. The books were not related to the lesson, but each child got to pick one and help me read it.


Teaching the Constitution.

Caveat: I don’t believe in recreating the wheel. Creating lessons is hard work, and there are a lot of great lessons already out there on certain topics. For the Constitution, there are lots of places that have created lessons plans ideal to your age group. I’m using them, and inserting linking below.

Constitution Day is 9/17. Since I am teaching a K-6 Civics class, and the Constitution is important, I decided to celebrate the Constitution on the class closest to Constitution Day. Here’s the lesson:

First: We practice writing the word Constitution. It’s a long word, a great word, because it has all the curves and lines in it. For the little kids, they are practicing writing. For the older children, they are learning vocabulary. Then I cut up the letters to “constitution” and have them paste them on a sheet of paper in the correct order.

Next I use this lesson by Civiced on authority. It has some great pictures at the end of the lesson that I post on the board so the students can follow along with the story. This helps both the visual and auditory learners in my class. We go through the whole story and answer all the questions. Then it is time to get up and do something.

Constitution Rap:  I had the kids take the words to this rap and perform it. We practiced the words, and they got to get up and dance and perform the rap. It was a fun thing to do, and gave them something to get up and do in the middle of the lesson.

Lastly, I had them create their own Constitution. All kids know what rules they have to live with, and they know what they can and cannot do. Sometimes the rules included are as simple as “I have to eat my vegetables,” or “No hitting.” For kids who prefer art to writing, they can illustrate their rules. They all got a blank sheet of paper, some crayons, and away they went. Then they shared their Constitutions with the class.

And another successful K-6 Civics class has finished.

American flag class.

So I am teaching a K-6 grade civics class – also known as a hodgepodge of American history, CA history, and general civics trivia. The first class in on the American flag, and flags generally. I have included, at the bottom, the jpegs of the class handouts if you want to do this lesson on your own.

First, we talked about flags in general (see the “What is a flag?” below). We described what a flag is: a symbol, something that means something, something to mark your way, a reminder to come back to a page. Then we listed off types of flags we had seen: parade flags, race flags, bookmarks, flags in the ground as goal posts, flags on cars….the list went on and on forever. These kids were great!

What is a flag? Here’s the worksheet.

Then we did our reading and reading comprehension questions on the first handout. After that, we did a word scramble for important flag words.

Next, we moved on to the American flag. I posted a big flag in the classroom – I have one, and the bigger the visual the better. I printed out the history/story of the American flag and had the kids read it with me. If they could read, I let them help, if not, they listened. If you need a history of the flag to use, simply Google it and find the story you like.

Then we played “true or false.” This is a great, active game.

I posted the word “true” on one side of the classroom and the word “false” on the other. Then I read a series of statements about the flag that they should have learned in the story. If the statement was true, they ran to the true. If it was false, they ran to the false. It was a great way of getting them off their rears and moving around after sitting for a little bit.

Here were the statements:

1. The American flag is red, white, and purple.

2. The first flag was sewn by Betsy Ross.

3. The first flag had 20 stars.

4. The first flag was commissioned in June 1777.

5. The flag has 18 stripes.

6. The flag has stars for each state.

7. Each President has a stripe on the flag.

8. The American flag is also known as a standard.

We moved on to what the American flag stands for.

Since we had talked about the original flag having 13 stars (for the 13 colonies), we talked (and counted) out the 50 stars for the 50 states.

What is the meaning of the American flag?

Then we talked about the meaning behind the stars, stripes, and colors of the flag (see the handout below). As we talked, the kids pointed to each thing on the flag.

Then they got to draw their own flags! I gave them a blank piece of paper and some crayons and asked them to make their own flag. They had to describe what each thing on the flag was. For those who were good writers, they wrote their own stories. For those who couldn’t write, I helped them. Then they presented their flags to the class.

Believe it or not this whole thing took 1 hour. It seemed like the kids had fun in their class, so I hope they all come back next week! Watch for next Monday’s lesson on K-6 Civics.

%d bloggers like this: