ESL Citizenship Lesson Plan

Instructor: Carrin Hahn

Carrin taught 3rd grade for ten years, worked as a learning specialist with K-5 students, and has a Master's degree in Elementary Education.

In this lesson plan, third grade ESL students will learn about citizenship. They will learn vocabulary associated with citizenship, and they will learn the duties and responsibilities that go along with being a citizen of the United States.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand vocabulary associated with citizenship.
  • Describe the rights and duties of US citizens.


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Construct meaning from oral presentations and literacy and informational text through grade appropriate listening, reading, and viewing


Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area


  • Freedom
  • Rights
  • Duties
  • Religion
  • Speech
  • Press
  • Assembly
  • Trial
  • Jury
  • Taxes
  • Vote
  • Citizen
  • Citizenship
  • Rules
  • Laws


  • Sentence strips with one vocabulary word from above written on each strip
  • 4 sheets of paper that say 'No school on Saturdays!'
  • Printable American flag coloring page from
  • Red, white, and blue crayons
  • Black, brown, or blue marker

Lesson Instructions

1. Introduce vocabulary for the lesson. Hold up the words on the sentence strips as you say them, and have the students repeat the word two times.

  • Start with 'citizen' and 'citizenship.' Explain that being a 'citizen' means a person not just lives in a city, state or country, but he also agrees to live by the rules and laws of that place.
  • Review 'rules' by reminding students of classroom rules, and review 'laws' by talking about laws students might know (they have to go to school, their parents have to drive at the speed limit).

2. Then talk about the words 'rights' and 'duties.'

  • Relate these terms to things they do at home: they have the 'right' to play with their toys at their house, they have the 'right' to eat dinner with their families, they have the 'duty' to do their chores after dinner, they have the 'duty' to make their beds or walk the dog if their parents say they have to do those things.

3. Next go over the 'rights' students have as US citizens. Demonstrate each of the following words, like a charade game. Say 'You enjoy 'freedom' of 'religion,' 'speech,' 'press,' and 'assembly' in this country.'

  • Explain that 'freedom' means 'you are able to do something.'
  • Bow your head and/or hold your hands in 'prayer' while showing the word 'religion' to demonstrate freedom of religion.
  • Write sentences on the board giving your opinion on something, and then read them aloud while showing the word 'speech' to demonstrate freedom of speech.
  • Have a group of four students move to one part of the room and hold the paper signs that say 'No school on Saturdays!' to demonstrate freedom of assembly.
  • Show the students the newspaper, and explain how there is the news part of the paper and there is the opinion part of the paper to demonstrate freedom of press.
  • Act out a courtroom where there is a judge, three jurors, and a defendant. The students don't need to know all of those words but just that the action is called a 'trial' by 'jury,' and it happens if someone goes to court for maybe doing something wrong. This is to show they have a right to a trial by jury.

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