We the Jury


This is a challenging and engaging activity that will stretch your 2nd grade students as it reinforces social studies concepts of citizen's roles and responsibilities and integrates literature, writing, and social studies. As a result of completing this classroom/group activity, your students will be able:

  • To recognize the responsibilities of a U.S. citizen.
  • To identify jury duty as one responsibility of a U.S. citizen.
  • To understand the function of a jury.
  • To role-play in a court of law setting.
  • To become familiar with Web search applications.
  • To practice writing and vocabulary building skills.
  • To practice working cooperatively.

Student Task

There have some shocking events in your neighborhood over the past few days. Two different houses have been blown down (one made of straw and the other made of wood) and a third was attacked with a vicious and mighty wind. After some slick detective work and a comprehensive review of a certain fairy tale, the police have apprehended a suspect. However, even though most in the community already believe the suspect is guilty, our system of justice (as you already know from our study of government) ensures that all citizens are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty by a court of law. Your class, based on its outstanding scholarship in this area, has been selected as the jury and legal officers to determine this suspect's guilt or innocence. Have fun with the story and do your best to decide if Mr. Alexander T. Wolf was guilty or framed for a crime he swears he did not commit.

Process and Directions

Big Picture Background Information:

The students should be fairly familiar with taught information such as: what a citizen is how one can become a citizen of the U.S., and a citizen's responsibilities (See page from web site). As part of this discussion, we should also discuss the idea of rules and consequences and what happens to folks who don't follow the rules. Background knowledge exercises related to trials, guilt and innocence and the role of the jury should figure prominently in the pre-activity lessons (see vocabulary list below).

The students should have read or heard the two versions of the well-known tale of the three little pigs. Discussion of points of view should take place either as a whole group or in cooperative groups.

Prepare students for "The Trial of the Wolf" by describing a court setting and trial procedures (without too much detail-this is second grade) Identify and discuss specific terms:

  • law
  • trial
  • court
  • judge
  • lawyer
  • jury
  • juror
  • witness
  • evidence
  • testimony
  • verdict
  • guilty
  • not guilty

Explain how the class will be involved in a mock trial to decide whether we think the wolf is guilty or not guilty. Emphasize the role and responsibility of the jury, and how they are different from all the other people involved.

Setting up the Trial

Use teacher judgment to decide how to proceed with assigning roles and preparing a script. Everyone in a class should be involved in the trial. You can add witnesses, like the grocer who had sugar all along, the dear old granny, or the wolf's allergist; depending on the outcome that you prefer. Some classes will be able to write the script, others will need your help. If necessary, you may write the script. It doesn't have to be too lengthy.

Remember to focus on the jury, the role of the citizen. They must know the law that the defendant is accused of breaking. Since this is geared for a young group, it may be wise to avoid terms like "murder" or "kill". Perhaps the judge should read the jury the law as: "It is unlawful to eat your neighbors" (or something like that).

Before the jury comes in with a verdict, have everyone else involved vote on the verdict. Remind them that the only verdict that counts is the jury's. After the trial, it's fun to count the votes and discuss the results in small groups.

Process Step By Step:

1. Complete Lesson 9 in Middletown's Social Studies Curriculum

2. Use 1 class period to visit the web site noted. Discuss 3 responsibilities of a citizen: obey the laws, vote, "sit on a jury".

3. Focus on "serving on a jury" and court terms: court, trial, jury, juror, judge, lawyers, witness, evidence, testimony, guilty, not guilty.

4. Use 2 class periods to read a classic version of The Three Little Pigs and Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Discuss points of view.

5. Use 1 or 2 class's to plan, practice, and conduct mock trial.

Informal: You can conduct the "trial" as an informal discussion of point of view and the facts of the case as a whole class activity with all of the students voting as part of a jury - this can be accomplished in a period. If this approach is taken, do your best to ensure that both sides of view are represented and then take the vote. You can complete this in a class period.

Formal: A class that is really excited and performing well within this activity can also take a more formal scripted approach to the trial. This approach will further reinforce knowledge of the various roles that are played within the courtroom. If you want to try this path, open and follow the provided Trial Script . This approach will take at least two class periods.

6. Use 1 class period for the summary writing prompt and assignment (see Writing Worksheet).

See attached Time: 5-6 30 minute classes

Resources and Support

  • Middletown Social Studies Curriculum Lesson 9, Nystrom Teacher's Guide p 196-198
  • Web Site:


  • A classic version of The Three Little Pigs
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! as told to Jon Scieszka,1989

Images acquired from:



  • Teacher observation of student involvement in discussions, planning and presenting the trial
  • Teacher scores student's written assessment relative to writing/vocabulary and jury concept knowledge (see Rubric)