Civic Learning Resources for Elementary Students

November 17, 2020

All students can be civic learners. For many, the elementary school classroom is the first civic space they encounter as they speak up about fairness and engage in other classroom activities that model democratic processes. Although iCivics’ resources are geared toward middle and high school levels, elementary teachers have found ways to appropriately apply iCivics resources in their classrooms as well. To better guide teachers in introducing civic concepts to students at the elementary level, here are some additional resources from iCivics and beyond:

Young Learners
This section of our Remote Learning Toolkit is dedicated to activities for children ages 7-10. On Young Learners, you can find games, activity books, and graphics to teach critical civics concepts to younger students. This is also a great resource to engage families in the learning process.

Citizenship and Elementary Education- how do you teach that?
While elementary school students may not fully understand federalism, they can learn the basic principles behind citizenship and the role they play on a smaller scale. On our blog, an elementary school teacher shared tips on using classroom democracy to teach the power of a voice and the improvement of being informed.

Raising little citizens: Civics lessons for K-5 kids
Elementary school civics is more about responsibility and citizenship than the structure of our government. In this article penned for the Today Parenting community, iCivics’ Director of Social Engagement, Amber Coleman-Mortley, shared her experience in developing civility and civic responsibility in her elementary-aged children at home. This resource offers advice that can be incorporated into the classroom as well as ways for families to grow closer through civics education. 

KidCitizen, a project backed by the Library of Congress, teaches history as well as civics and government concepts to K-5 students through primary source photographs. Students can engage with these primary sources and concepts behind them through interactive video episodes.

Teaching Tolerance
Inclusivity is an important part of being a responsible citizen. Teaching Tolerance provides elementary-level lesson plans on civic concepts integrated with a focus on diversity and social justice.

Gilder Lehrman Elementary Curriculum- Colonial America to Reconstruction
Understanding the history of this country is critical to learning about how its government was developed and changed over time. The Gilder Lehrman Elementary Curriculum has interactive maps, lesson plans, student activity sheets, primary sources, professional development courses, and other resources to teach history while integrating concepts on the formation of our government.

Rendell Center
The Rendell Center creates lesson plans, pedagogical tools, and professional development experiences for teachers as well as literacy-based programs and experiential learning opportunities for students.

Discovering Justice - Mock Trial Mini Units
Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial Mini Units utilizes the mock trial structure to teach students civic skills such as citizenship and freedom of speech. These units can be taught virtually, in-person or hybrid.

Smithsonian Learning Lab Collections
The Smithsonian Learning Collections has multimedia teaching resources focusing on topics across academic disciplines. You can filter resources by discipline, media type, and age range to allow parents to join in on the learning as well. It also provides resources in Spanish and other languages to create an inclusive learning experience for English Language Learners.

National Constitution Center - We the Civics Kids
In partnership with the Rendell Center, the National Constitution Center created We the Civics Kids, providing lesson plans, games, and other activities for all K-12 levels. You can also filter lesson plans by state standards to find the most suitable one for your classroom.

JFK Library - Elementary Curricular Resources
If you are focusing on teaching the executive branch, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum offers lesson plans on the key components of a presidency such as campaigns, elections, inauguration, as well as presidential responsibilities. It also provides historical learning resources on issues at the forefront of the Kennedy presidency such as civil rights and the Cold War.

EMK Institute - Civic Education Resources
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate has curriculum material to help students explore and get involved with important issues facing the nation as well as the world. The Civics at Home activities, which encourage students to consider how they can make a difference at home, can be particularly useful during remote learning.

Ordinary Kids Change the World Challenge
What better way to learn about personal impact than generating an idea to make the world a better place. iCivics has partnered with Penguin Random House for the Ordinary Kids Change the World Challenge. Teachers can submit their K-3 classrooms’ ideas for a chance to win $2,500.00 to turn their idea into a reality, meet with mentors in the field, and receive a library of Ordinary People Change the World books.