Talking politics isn’t easy, but discussing the election process is important. Steer clear of the drama and approach elections with some of the terrific ideas found below. They’re teacher-tested and classroom-tried, so happy, engaged students are guaranteed!
Election Lesson Plan Ideas
Ice Cream Taste Test
Idea by Amanda, Kdg. Teacher, Kinsman, OH
I read my kindergarten students the book, My Teacher for President by Kay Winters (Perfection Learning, 2008). We then talk about the election process, learn a bit about each candidate, and discuss the process of voting and secret ballots. We learn that voting is our chance to say who we want to be in charge.
We then conduct an ice cream taste test and use a ballot to vote for our favorite flavor: chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. We provide each student with an “I Voted Today!” sticker just like grown ups receive. We tally the votes together, create a graph and announce our confectionary flavor winner on our website and in our weekly newsletter.
Give a Speech
Idea by Kristy, Pre-K-Kdg. Teacher, Hummelstown, PA
I love teaching my 4-5 year-old students about Election Day. After reading, Duck for President by Doreen Cronin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004), I ask for volunteer candidates willing to make a speech in their bid for office. (The speech requirement automatically reduces the number of students wishing to throw their hats into the ring.) I then pose different questions for the candidates to answer. For example, I might ask, “If you where President, what vegetable would you like to get rid of and why?” or “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream and why do you think we should all like it, too?”
All students help to construct campaign banners and pins to wear on Election Day. On the big day, I copy pictures of the student candidates and have the voters go to our voting booth (ordinarily, our puppet theater) where they choose a picture of the candidate they’d like to “Rule the School!” We end our day by making a tally chart of our votes and finding out the winner. Everyone earns a medal for participating, but our new President receives a crown!
Talk About Parties
Idea by Judy, 1st Grade Teacher, Huntsville, AL
To begin our election studies, I have my children bring in articles about the candidates running for office. We then list some of their political views on a T chart. I then introduce the terms political party, liberal and conservative and what they mean.
I tell students that the Democratic Party is typically considered to be liberal and the Republican Party is typically considered to be conservative. We then discuss the differences in the political viewpoints of the two candidates running for office. I have students draw pictures of their interpretation of the two parties and their views and add a caption to each. I display these illustrations as everyone enjoys seeing political agendas through the eyes of 6 year-olds.
Learning About the Branches
Idea by Ronni, Kdg. Teacher, Surprise, AZ
To help older students identify and research the three branches of government— the Executive Branch, (the President and about 5,000,000 workers), the Legislative Branch (the Senate and House of Representatives), and the Judicial Branch (the Supreme Court and lower Courts)—have them each draw three overlapping circles (pretzel style) on a piece of paper and then label each section with one branch of the government. In the space below the drawing, students can record information about each branch and how they work interdependently. They can also research and report on individuals serving in each branch.