Freedom of Speech and of the Press Lesson Plans for the Classroom

Free Speech Week is the perfect time to introduce your students to the history, significance and current events surrounding freedom of speech and freedom of the press in our country, and around the world. To take some of the work out of planning, we have compiled a list of some creative, free lesson plans from around the web that focus on the areas of freedoms of speech and of the press and of freedom of expression, in general. If you have a lesson plan you would like us to include on this list, please let us know. We would love to hear from you!

Elementary and Middle School

EDSITEment – Lesson plan appropriate for grades 3-5 titled “What’s Fair in a Free Country?” Visit

Also on EDSITEment, for grades 6-8, “Norman Rockwell, Freedom of Speech – Know It When You See It,” a Picturing America resource authored by Kaye Passmore, Ed.D and Amy Trenkle, NBCT. Visit

National Constitution Center – Provided by the Bill of Rights Institute, for grades 6-12, Respecting Freedom of Speech

National First Ladies Library – For middle school classrooms, “Should Students Have Free Speech?” adapted by Averil McClelland, Kent State University. Visit

Newspaper Association of America Foundation – From First Things First: Using the Newspaper to Teach the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, includes freedom of speech and of the press activities for elementary, middle and high school students.

High School

California Courts Freedom of Expression: The First Amendment, for grades 9-12 and Is your Speech Free?: The First Amendment for grade 12.

Education World – On Education World, “Lesson Plan Booster: Student Clothing and the First Amendment” by Jason Tomaszewski. Visit

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)FIRE’s Free Speech Curriculum – which includes units on The Philosophy of Free Speech; Speech, Power, and Censorship in American History; The Law and Free Speech plus a Debate Activity Kit – offers comprehensive resources from lecture outlines and prepared PowerPoint slides to reading lists, suggested assignments, videos, handouts and assessments. Appropriate for middle and high school students, materials can be accessed for free on their website:

First Amendment Center Do Students Have the Right to Read? explores issues surrounding freedom of the speech and of the press, and of banned books in school libraries. Also, Where do Student Press Rights Start…and Stop?

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights CommissionThe Journalism Education Association (JEA)’s SPRC has developed several lesson plans for Constitution Day that focus on freedoms of speech and of the press. Visit

Judicial Learning Center – Three landmark cases are presented: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969; Bethel School District v. Fraser, 1968; and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988. Visit

The New York Times – In The Learning Network of The New York Times: “Freedom of Expression Online: Outlining the First Amendment for Teenagers” by Sarah Kavanagh and Holly Epstein Ojalvo. Visit

PBS – In PBS’s Newshour Extra, “The Dilemma of Protecting Free Speech – Lesson Plan” by Greg Timmons. Visit

Also from PBS, The Price of a Free Press: Is Journalism Worth Dying For?

ReadWriteThinkFreedom of Speech and Automatic Language: Examining the Pledge of Allegiance, author Dawn Hogue, Wisconsin, published by the National Council of Teachers of English. Exploring the First Amendment by Patricia L. Robinson, Belle Chasse Academy

Student Press Law Center – These SPLC materials include handouts, lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations on press freedoms. Visit

United States Capitol Historical Society – From the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, a lesson plan designed for Constitution Day, with a focus on freedom of speech titled “Freedom of Speech…Always Protected?” Visit