5 Easy Lesson Ideas for Introducing Digital Citizenship into your Classroom

It doesn't matter if you're a Classroom Teacher or Digital Technologies Specialist Teacher - ICT is part of every classroom in one way or another!

That's why it's so important your students are taught how to be good digital citizens - that they understand how to use their devices in a safe and healthy ways, and that they know what to do should they encounter something unsafe online. 

Over the years, I've developed a number of Digital Citizenship lesson activities for primary school students. Each are inspired to some degree by the short stories in two of my children's cyber safety book series The Tweeting Galah and the Surfing Penguin. 

While these activities could be used all year around, I've found them specifically helpful when introducing new devices and technology into the classroom. 

Lesson Idea #1: Digital Footprints

Digital Footprints Student Activity

This was one of the first activities I ever did for a cyber safety lesson, and one I still recommend because it's a great way to help students begin understanding the impact of their digital trail.

This activity pairs well with "The Tale of the Tweeting Galah" (The Tweeting Galah) short story, which introduces kids to the concept that what they post online can be seen by anyone

The activity involves asking students to take off their shoes (so be prepared ... maybe wait until it's not summer and at the very least, open your windows!) and trace around their feet. They then have to write inside their foot all the different apps they use and websites they visit (it may help to do a brainstorm first). 

Now, depending on the age of your students it's possible they won't yet have a huge footprint - particularly if they're only just getting their hands on their own devices. That's where this activity could become one that is worked on throughout the year - at the start of each term, students can add new apps/websites to their footprint in a different colour. 

What I like about this activity is that it becomes quite confronting for students to see exactly how much of a digital footprint they are accumulating - particularly when you begin discussing the type of personal information that each of those apps/websites are collecting about them. 

 

Lesson Idea #2: Student Device Contracts

Digital Citizenship Lesson Idea Student Contract

Clear boundaries and accountability are essential for students using devices in the classroom. They need to understand the rules, and commit to making the right choices - and understand the consequences if they don't. 

That’s why I love student contracts. It's a simple activity, but it involves students in the process of identifying suitable boundaries and commiting to following them. It's then something that can be displayed, shared with parents and referred back to throughout the year. 

I used to have the contracts uploaded to students' Seesaw accounts, as well as saved as their iPad screensaver image. Of course they could also be printed and displayed around the classroom! 

This activity can be done as a stand-alone lesson, or following a reading of "The Curious Case of the Overly Playful Platypus" (The Tweeting Galah). This story really highlights the need for device contracts, so can be a good way of getting kids on board before you do your own. 

You can download my free student contract template via my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

 

Lesson Idea #3: Take 5! Activity

Digital Citizenship Lesson Activity Idea for Screen Time Balance 

One of the biggest issues I see occur when students first get their own device (at home and classroom) is the struggle with screen time balance. 

The excitement is REAL and it is BIG.

I remember with one Year 4 class I taught, I literally had to have them sit on their hands at one point because they just couldn’t not resist using their iPads when they were meant to be listening to instructions 🤣

That's why I love any activity that encourages screen time balance, and this Take 5! activity is one that I've used again and again with different year groups because it's so simple but effective. 

We make use again of "The Curious Case of the Overly Playful Platypus" (The Tweeting Galah). After discussing the impact that too much screen time had on poor Presley the Platypus, each student traces around their hand on coloured paper. On each finger, they list a different activity they could do instead of being on a screen. 

I like to then display these hands somewhere visible as a constant reminder that there are in fact other fun things that can be done at school and home that don't involve a screen! 

Lesson Idea #4: Unsafe Situations Physical Warning Signs Emoji Poster Activity

Unsafe Situations Student Example 

A big concern when students have “unrestricted” access to devices is what they might inadvertently stumble across online. It’s important they understand how to read their body's warning signs if they were to come across something that made them feel scared, unsafe or uncomfortable.

This activity was always one of my favourites to do early on in the year with students.

After reading about the scary experience Pablo the Penguin had in "The Scary Plight of the Surfing Penguin" (The Surfing Penguin), students accessed a digital copy of Pablo on their device, and used emojis to demonstrate the different warning signs their body might give them if they came across something inappropriate online. 

What I particularly loved about this activity was that by using emojis you A. instantly increased engagement 🙌 and B. it became an activity that was accessible to all students - literacy levels were not a barrier.

You can download the full lesson plan and template for free via my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

 

Lesson Idea #5: I'm a Safe Online Surfer Poster

  

Digital Citizenship Lesson Idea Student Poster  Digital Citizenship Lesson Idea Student Poster

 

Finally, just something for a bit of fun! 

To finish off from reading "The Scary Plight of the Surfing Penguin" (The Surfing Penguin), we scan the augmented reality code that's included in the book with my device. This activates the camera on my device, and essentially it works like a face filter on Instagram/SnapChat ... except that students now look like Pablo the Penguin! 

We have some fun posing and taking photos as penguins, and then print the photos out. These photos can then be glued to the poster template and displayed around the classroom as a way of reminding students of their commitment to being good digital citizens.

Download the free poster template from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

 

If you use any of these activities in your classroom I'd love to hear how it goes! Tag me on Instagram or Facebook to let me know 🤗
Also, if you want a copy of The Tweeting Galah and The Surfing Penguin to support your digital citizenship lessons head over to my store to browse the print and eBook versions available.