Integrating Digital Citizenship in K-5 Curriculum

Digital Citizenship

In class, we have been recently discussing digital citizenship. Specifically, we have examined Ribble’s definition and understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen.  Ribble categorizes digital citizenship using three guiding principles and nine different elements.

Ribble’s Three Guiding Principles (S3)
1. Safety: Protecting yourself and others.
2. Savvy: Educating yourself and others.
3. Social: Respecting yourself and others.

Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship
1. Digital Access: Equitable distribution of technology and online resources.
2. Digital Commerce: Electronic buying and selling of goods focusing on the tools to assist those using money within a digital space.
3. Digital Communication & Collaboration: Electronic exchange of information.
4. Digital Etiquette: Conduct standards or procedures when thinking about others during technology use. 
5. Digital Fluency: Process of understanding technology and its use.
6. Digital Health & Welfare: Physical and psychological well-being in a digital world. 
7. Digital Law: Electronic responsibility for actions related to online actions and the creation of rules and policy to address such online issues.
8. Digital Rights & Responsibilities: Requirements and freedoms extended to all in the digital world.
9. Digital Security & Privacy: Electronic precautions to guarantee safety.

Integrating Digital Citizenship with the Curriculum

The Digital Citizenship Continuum for Kindergarten to Grade 12 outlines outcomes and indicators for each of Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship. The nine elements are broken down into three groups based off of the guiding principles. This document serves as a good starting point to plan integrated lessons on digital citizenship. Below, I outline two goals of digital citizenship for students based off of Ribble’s social and safety principle. I explore digital citizenship in Kindergarten to Grade 2 using the social  respect principle. The three elements associated with respect based on the continuum are digital etiquette, digital access, and digital law. Additionally, I explore digital citizenship in Grades 3-5 using Ribble’s safety principle. The three elements associated with safety based on the continuum are digital rights and responsibilities; digital safety and security; as well as digital health and wellness.

Digital Respect – Kindergarten to Grade 2

Digital Etiquette (p. 1)


          • We must treat others the way we wish to be treated, both in real life and when using technology.
          • I communicate with actual people both in person and online.


          • Demonstrate that they are aware of others around them when using technology and control the volume of their devices.
          • Always ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.
          • Exchange appropriate messages either online or in person, to recognize that they are communicating with actual people in both instances.
Digital Access (p. 2)


          • Not all people have access to or utilize technology in the same way.
          • There are limits to the use of digital technology.


          • Demonstrate that they know when and where to use technology appropriately.
Digital Law (p. 3)


          • Adult permission is required to sign up for accounts or for purchasing anything.
          • Other people created and own the content that is posted online.


          • Search for copyright free images on appropriate websites and name their source.

Digital Protection – Grades 3 to 5

Digital Rights & Responsibilities (p. 7)


          • Using technology is not a right but is actually a privilege that is earned by demonstrating responsibility.


          • Co-create a “Responsible Use Policy” for their use of technology in the classroom.
Digital Safety & Security (p. 8)


          • If I am approached by someone online that I don’t know or trust, I need to tell an adult.
          • Not everything in my life needs to be shared online and sometimes I should keep things private.
          • There are different reasons we have passwords and I need to learn how to manage them to keep myself safe and secure.


          • Discuss the idea of protecting privacy by not answering questions or giving out personal information online.
          • Be introduced to what spam is and what forms it takes.
          • Learn when and how to get help if they encounter an unsafe situation online.
Digital Health & Wellness (p. 9)


          • Viewing inappropriate online content may be harmful to my mental health.
          • Taking ‘tech breaks’ are necessary for my mental and physical health.


          • Discuss what content is appropriate and inappropriate to view online.
          • Identify ways of protecting their hearing and sight while using different digital devices.
          • Determine a healthy balance between technology usage and an active lifestyle.

Integrated & Cross-Curricular Lesson Plan Ideas

The aforementioned ‘outcomes and indicators’ for six of Ribble’s elements of digital citizenship can easily be integrated into diverse lesson plans related to various subjects for the different grades. Below, I briefly discuss unique lesson plans that could be used for students in Kindergarten up to Grade 5 to teach them about digital citizenship. Please note that these are not fully developed lesson plans and thus not all of the listed curricular connections have been fully hashed out nor explained. Instead, they offer a structure for where the project could lead and the connections that could be made.

Kindergarten – Camera Shy

Invite students to participate in a photo-taking opportunity. Students may use actual technology for this activity or design their own camera using various craft materials. Then, students will be randomly assigned a role using for example, shapes. If they are a triangle, they need to answer ‘yes’ when asked if they can have their picture taken. If they are a circle, they must say ‘no’ to their picture being took. Take the time to alternate the groups so everyone has a chance to accept or decline their photo being taken as well as being a photographer. After the activity ask students to verbally reflect on their experience (ex: How did you feel when…)

SK Curricular Connections

Arts Education:  CPK.2 (e, f, g, h)

English Language Arts:  CCK.3 (a, c, d), ARK.2

Health Education:  USCK.1 (c, d, f, k, l), USCK.2 (a, b, f, h), APK.1 (a, b, c)

Physical Education:  PEK.5 (d, h), PEK.7 (b, c, e, g, n, o)

Social Studies: PAK.1 (a, c, d)

Grade 1 – Marco Polo Pals

At the start of the project determine partners or groups by random selection. Students will then be expected to communicate twice weekly with their partner or group members using the Marco Polo app on a classroom device. Each student will have an account created for them using their school email. Teachers will be expected to review the students video communications regularly to ensure students are using the technology appropriately. The first communication of the week will be a sharing opportunity for the students. Here you may provide a prompt that you want them to respond to or invite them to free share with their partner. The second communication will be a response to the video their partner records and shares with them. The goal of this project is to help students identify that they are communicating with other people while developing respect when engaging in sharing and listening behaviours.

SK Curricular Connections

English Language Arts:  CR1.3 (b, f, g, h), CC1.1 (a, b, e), CC1.2 (f), CC1.3 (a, b, c, d, e, f, h, i), AR1.1 (a, b), AR1.2

Health Education:  USC1.3 (a, c, f, g, h, k, l, m), USC1.5 (a, b, d, e, f, g, h, i)

Social Studies:  IN1.1 (a, b, d, e), IN1.2 (b, c, d, e), PA1.1 (b), PA1.2 (a, b, d), RW1.2 (d, e)

Treaty Education: SI1

Grade 2 – Animal Search

Invite students to search for copyright free images of different animals on appropriate websites, documenting their sources. Use the images the children find to determine which animals the class will learn more about. Challenge kids to find different types of images that can be used within the classroom (real, cartoon, sketches, etc). Invite students to wonder about who created or uploaded the image; take the time to explore the importance of knowing who produced the image so that we can give them credit as a source. The real pictures will serve as a guide for students identification of the animal while sketches can be used for them to colour. Furthermore, cartoon images may be used for them to create their own comic strips about animals.

SK Curricular Connections

Arts Education:  CP2.8 (a, b, e, f, g, i), CR2.2 (a, c, e)

English Language Arts: CC2.2 (a, b, c, d, f)

Science:  AN2.1 (a, c, d, e, f, g, h), AN2.3 (a, b, c, d, e, f, g)

Social Studies: RW2.2 (a, b, c, d, e)

Grade 3 – Technology Code of COnduct or “Responsible Use Policy”

As a class, discuss expectations for online use and work together to create a ‘code of conduct’ for online use. This discussion includes topics such as technology use is a privilege; appropriate and inappropriate content to view online; protecting one’s privacy and personal information including importance of passwords; stranger danger; and spam. Student voice is critical, so follow the lead of student discussion; however, make sure to redirect where necessary and that all points mentioned above are covered in an age appropriate manner. To summarize learning, have students work together to create written and illustrated posters that represent each agreed upon code. Respond to each other’s visual representations of the codes.

SK Curricular Connections

Arts Education:  CP3.7 (e, f)

English Language Arts:  CP3.2 (a, e, g), CC3.1 (a, b, c, d, f), CC3.2 (b, c, d, e), CC3.3 (a, b, c, d, e)

Health Education:  USC3.6

Social Studies:  PA3.2 (a, b, d, e, g), RW3.3

Grade 4 – Technology & Health Posters

In groups, invite students to create posters about mental and physical health in relation to digital use. Important components that posters should include are: screen time limits (why they’re important, methods to limit, etc.); technology, hearing and sight (how technology can affect them, ways to protect, etc.); as well as technology pros/cons for mental and physical health. Students will display their posters in the classroom and take turns viewing each one in their original group. Students will then be prompted reflect on their experience of the viewing activity.

SK Curricular Connections

Arts Education:  CR4.1 (c)

English Language Arts:  CC4.2 (a, b, c, d, e, f), AR4.1 (a)

Health Education:  DM4.1 (d, e, f)

Physical Education: PE4.1 (b, d, h), PE4.12 (a, b, c, d, e, f, f)

Science: LI4.1 (a, e, f), LI4.3 (b, e, f, j), S04.1 (, b, c, g, h, j), SO4.2 (a, d, e, f), S04.3 (a, d, f, h, i, j)

Grade 5 – Unsafe Encounters Video

In student-selected groups, invite students to create an infomercial, news broadcast, radio broadcast, etc., to explain how to get help if you or someone you know encounters an unsafe situation online. Students are to write a skit about a fictional individual who had an unsafe encounter online, how they got help, and why getting help is important.

SK Curricular Connections

Arts Education:  CP5.3 (a, b, c, f, g, h, i), CP5.4 (c, d, e, f, g)

English Language Arts:  CR5.1 (c), CR5.2 (e, f, h), CC5.1, CC5.3 (a, b, c, d, e, f, i, j)

Health Education:  USC5.5 (a, b, c, e, f, h, i, j, i), USC5.6 (c, d, e, f), DM5.1 (a)

Considering the Role & Influence of Character Education

Character Education focuses on fostering moral or ethical values that have been deemed important for students to develop. Various sources focus on different values. For example, in Jason Ohler’s article, “Character Education for the Digital Age” he introduces two different value sets. The first value set is a list of 12 guiding principles for exceptional character provided by the International Center for Leadership in Education. The guiding values listed are adaptability, compassion, contemplation, courage, honesty, initiative, loyalty, optimism, perseverance, respect, responsibility and trust-worthiness. The second set of values,  provided by the Heartwood Institute, focus on courage, loyalty, justice, respect, hope, honesty, and love. It is important to adapt the values for digital use as it creates an opportunity for important offline values to intersect and shape students digital interactions with integrity.  These values may also be used when developing multidisciplinary lesson plans as one can focus on learning a particular value across all content areas, including within digital citizenship.

4 Replies to “Integrating Digital Citizenship in K-5 Curriculum”

  1. Hi Kaelynn, I just want to start off by saying wow! You obviously put a lot of time and research into this blog post, so great job! I love all of the ways you connected the 9 elements to the Saskatchewan curriculum, Your blog post is very informative, so thank you for that!

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this post as I know it was quite lengthy. You deserve a gold star ? I’m glad you found the post to be informative.

  2. Your blogs never fail to impress Kaelynn! The ‘Marco Polo Pals’ idea seems like so much fun, especially since it’s something you could do over a long period of time. You could even use it similarly to “pen pals” and have students communicate with another class! It seems like a really great way to learn digital citizenship while also integrating your other classes into it. I greatly appreciate the amount of effort you put into this blog post and all the amazing ideas you’ve shared with us! Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Ava!

      You deserve a gold star for taking the time to read this post as I know it was quite lengthy.

      I hadn’t considered using it with multiple classrooms, but I love the idea of connecting more students through the project. Thank you for sharing ?

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