Click below to access the downloadable article that goes with the exercises on this page. The goals listed in the articles and exercises are derived from the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

Download the “Citizenship” Article

Section Objective:

Students will better grasp the rights and responsibilities that citizens of the United States of America have as well as the process to become a citizen.

Discussion Questions:

  • Where do you trace your ancestry from? Does that community hold a large focus in your life?
  • What is the difference between a right and a responsibility? 
  • What right is most important to you? What responsibility could you do a better job at fulfilling?
  • If you gained your citizenship by being born in the U.S., what do you think of the promises the oath makes? Would you be comfortable swearing it?

Citations / Further Exploration:

Civics Practice Quiz

Citizenship, Dimitry Kochenov

How to Be an American: A Field Guide to Citizenship, Silvia Hidalgo

No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies, Linda Kerber

Exercise: A Type of Citizen

Subject(s): English, Theatre

Goals: Students will be able to:

  • Use examples from their knowledge and experience to support the main ideas of their oral presentation.
  • Apply narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing to develop experiences or characters.
  • Use grammar and vocabulary appropriate for situation, audience, topic and purpose.


  • Paper and pens

Discussion / Do:

  • What makes a civically strong citizen? What makes a civically weak citizen?
  • As a class, create two lists for qualities and behaviors one finds in a “Strong” citizen as well as a “Weak” citizen.
  • Give each student a piece of paper and a writing implement. Assign each student in the class to be either a “Strong Citizen” or a “Weak Citizen” for this exercise. Direct their attention to their respective list to review for a minute. These lists probably focus on actions as well as adjectives that relate to “Strong” and “Weak” citizens. 
  • Each student is given ten minutes to write out an eight to ten-line poem about trying to better their community from the perspective of their assigned “Strong” or “Weak” citizen.
  • Following the writing period, have students partner up and read their poems to one another.
    • If any students are brave and bold enough, encourage them to share their poem with the rest of the class

Discussion / Do:

  • Do you consider yourself a strong or weak citizen? Will you be a stronger or weaker one when you are older? 
  • What encourages you to be a better one? What is holding your civic potential back?
  • What small changes can people make to become stronger citizens? It just takes small changes to become a better one. Voting is great but it’s only one way to contribute.

Exercise: Civic Knowledge: The Game Show

Subject(s): Theatre, History

Goals: Students will be able to:

  • Promote collaboration with others both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Apply civic virtues and democratic principles to make collaborative decisions.
  • Comprehend the first ten amendments to the Constitution and the rights they guarantee. 


Set Up:

  • Before the class begins, you should select ten questions from the link above that you’d like to use during the game show. It’s probably easiest to prepare a single sheet with the ten questions and their answers for you, the game show host.
  • Divide the group into small groups (four to six). Group members should sit together. Provide each group with a supply of paper and pens, pencils and markers. Place the art supplies and poster paper in an easily accessible place in the room.


  • Explain to them that today we’re all participating in a game show. You’re the host and they’ve now been divided into competing teams.
  • First up, each team should create a team name and a poster for their team. Give each team a sheet of poster board (or large sheet of paper) and point out where the art supplies, markers, etc. are. Encourage them to make the names fun and get creative with the poster. This poster is promoting their team!
  • Once posters are completed, have groups show them off and then hang them up near each group. Give each group ten sheets of paper.
  • Enthusiastically introduce each team. Let the games begin! (If you’ve got some game show music, this is the time to get it playing!)
    • From here, go through the first nine questions, one at a time. After each question, the individual teams must come to agreement on an answer (give them a time limit for each question.) Once the group has agreed on an answer, they will need to write their answer on a sheet of paper (one answer per sheet.) At the conclusion of the time limit, invite each group to hold up their answer. Reward each team three points per correct answer.
    • For the final question, groups are allowed to bet as many or as few points as they would like (provided their group already has that many points. No betting 50 points if you have three.) If they get the question right, they earn that number of points. However, if they get it wrong, they lose that many points.
  • At the end of the competition, tally the final points and declare a winner.


  • The questions asked today were all a part of the civics test that those going through the naturalization process in the United States must pass. Were you confident in your knowledge of these questions? How robust is your civic knowledge?
  • A person born in this country doesn’t have to take this test to be a citizen. How do you feel about that?
  • Would you be able to pass this test on your own? 
    • During the naturalization interview, applicants are asked 10 questions from the list of 100 questions in English. Applicants must answer correctly six of the 10 questions to pass the civics test in English.