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What is a U.S. citizen and what are the characteristics of a "good" citizen?

What is a U.S. citizen and what are the characteristics of a "good" citizen?

Author: Tim Sexton


  • Students will be able to explain the main types of legal U.S. citizenship.
  • Students will be able to identify their civil rights.
  • Students will be able to explain what they think a good citizen is in terms of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and dispositions needed by citizens.


people are considered legal U.S. citizens by birth if they are: a) born in the United States; or b) if they are born to U.S. citizens.  

​naturalized citizen -- 1. there are several qualifications a person must meet in order to become a naturalized U.S. citizen

·         Eligible candidates must

§  Be 18 years old

§  Have already been granted legal permanent residency

§  Have continuous residency in the U.S. for five years

§  Be of good moral character

§  Be able to speak and read basic English

§  Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government

§  Be faithful to the principles of the U.S. Constitution

§  Have a favorable disposition toward the U.S.

§  Take the Oath of Allegiance

what good citizenship means by looking at four important areas:



  • What does a good citizen know [KNOWLEDGE]?  the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, U.S. history, how our government works, what democracy means, how to vote, understanding of current events and issues
  • What skills does a good citizen have [SKILLS]?  communication, working together, intellectual, critical thinking, problem solving
  • What attitudes (beliefs, disposition, outlooks) does a good citizen have [ATTITUDES]?  respect, tolerance, cooperation, compromise, caring
  • What does a good citizen do [ACTIONS]?  participating, voting, keeping up with the news, volunteering, community service
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America at its best:What it means to be a good citizen

What It Means To Be An American Citizen teaches what a citizen is and how to become a citizen of America. The importance of the right to vote is addressed, as well as the privilege of an education. This program demonstrates to children the character traits that make a good citizen and how they can cultivate those traits. The students will learn that as citizens we have rights and privileges, as well as responsibilities. The importance of becoming educated and developing one's positive attributes is stressed. This program teaches about being a good citizen through examples of youth in action.

Source: America at Its Best: What It Means to Be an American Citizen. Prod. Noon E. Noon E, 2003. Discovery Education. Web. 6 July 2012. .