Grades K – 4

The elementary Education for Freedom lessons are intended to help teachers develop students’ awareness of the rights identified in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Many complex ideas related to the amendment cannot be explored in the early grades. However, the essence of these rights can be understood when presented in a way that relates to the child’s life.

The elementary lessons not only relate to the child’s experience but also to the elementary curriculum in general, stressing particularly language arts and social studies concepts. Teachers who are concerned about teaching reading will especially appreciate the array of children’s literature recommended in many of the lessons.

Eight major objectives form the framework for developing students’ awareness of the First Amendment. Students will:

  1. Understand and demonstrate common forms of expression.
  2. Express what a right is.
  3. Know that the First Amendment protects our right to free expression and understand that the First Amendment was added to the Constitution because of the importance of the rights it protects.
  4. Recognize that many Americans have come to the United States to gain freedom of religion.
  5. Understand the importance of freedom of the press and recognize that freedom of the press belongs to young people, not just the institution of the press.
  6. Recognize that using our rights has consequences.
  7. Suggest ways of resolving conflicts that arise when citizens use their rights.
  8. Value First Amendment rights.

Teachers may choose to use the lessons in any order. Several of the lessons will correspond to units being taught in social studies, such as Pilgrims, Newcomers, and the First Amendment, which fits with American colonial history, or Viva La Causa-Cesar Chavez, which can be used during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Others can be taught when an issue comes up, such as using rights responsibly. Cry Wolf is a good lesson to help students understand that with freedoms come responsibilities.

All the lessons use a participatory approach that encourages students to discuss, role-play, conduct surveys, create projects and become engaged in their learning in other ways. Teachers should feel free to modify or adapt the lessons to whatever way seems appropriate for their students and communities.

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