First Amendment

A cultural orientation provider leading a discussion on U.S. laws

Refugees have compelling needs for protection and, by definition, have a well-founded fear of persecution, often from government authorities or from other powerful social entities. As refugees prepare to come to the United States, many are unfamiliar with the laws that protect their rights, and once they arrive, need encouragement to engage with their new government with trust. This lesson plan is designed to introduce refugees to some fundamental rights in the United States which many Americans may take for granted. It is designed to instill confidence in their safety and build a sense of civic pride and responsibility.

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  • The First Amendment is part of the United States Constitution and it protects freedoms of religion, speech, and the press, and the right to assemble peacefully and to petition the government.
  • Citizens of the United States and other residents (including refugees) can participate in the public discourse in many ways and can take legal action for their protection, if necessary.

After this lesson, refugees will be able to:

  • Identify the First Amendment as part of the U.S. Constitution. Articulate the five freedoms, which are rights protected by the First Amendment: Religion, Speech, Press, Peaceful Assembly, Petition the Government.
  • Acknowledge that the state laws protecting First Amendment rights can be different from one state to another.
  • Recognize that the debate around the First Amendment is an ongoing right and responsibility of citizens and residents in the United States.
  • Five Freedoms game board and picture cards (1 set per group)
  • Petition template (1 per group) (optional)
  • First Amendment Rights  fact sheet (1 per participant) (optional) or podcast

See below, several excellent websites which provided the historical background and educational support for this lesson plan. In particular, the Five Freedoms Game and Write a Petition exercise were modified from the Educational Resources available on the National Constitution Center website.