What better time to teach students about the ins and outs of the election process than during a Presidential Election Year? From vocabulary to the voting process, there are countless ways to present the information to students. Really Good Teachers from across the country share their election lesson plan ideas below to help spark your imagination and creativity!
Teaching Student About the Election Process
Idea by Lisa, 2nd Grade Teacher, Chatsworth, GA
I begin our study of the election process by introducing numerous relevant vocabulary words, such as political, party, incumbent, government, election, ballot, term, president, vice-president, campaign, budget, defense, etc. (You can harvest any number of such words from books, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, etc. Also, ask students to suggest terms they wish to explore.)
Then, so that students can fully understand the voting process, we conduct a mock election for president and vice president. I print ballots consisting of photos of our candidates along with two check-off boxes so students can each vote for his or her favorite. We place the ballots into a box, count the ballots, and announce the results. It’s a great way to help second graders understand the election/voting process.
Idea by LaTaisha, 1st Grade Teacher, St. Clair Shores, MI
Like many teachers, I have my students learn about the election process by conducting an election in class—but our election has an important twist. Our election is the real deal.
Instead of conducting a mock election, I have my kids vote on which new class rules we should adopt and which old class rules we should revise or discard. Our high-stakes election process captures and holds the attention of every one of my students. (Tip: Before voting, brainstorm together about the nature and consequence of adopting, revising and/or discarding specific rules. Allow students to vote only on those rule changes you are actually willing to accept and support.)
What Is an Election?
Idea by Cheryl, Kindergarten Teacher, El Campo, TX
To acquaint our young students with the Presidential Election, we begin by discussing what is meant by an election. We read lots of election-inspired books, such as Duck for President by Doreen Cronin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004), and give examples of other types of elections.
We then conduct a mock election by having students cast ballots for a favorite movie “candidate” from among two we offer them. Students design campaign folders for their favorite movies and use these to campaign for their movie of choice. We make voter registration cards plus purses or wallets for storing the cards. On Election Day, each student votes for his or her favorite movie. This gives students experience with the election process so they better understand what is happening at the local and national levels.
Idea by Teresa, 5th Grade Teacher, North Canton, OH
Throughout the school year, I integrate my goal of helping students understand the concepts underlying an election process with my goal of having them use context and sentence structure to become better readers.
To do this, I use sentence strips to record election-inspired informational text statements, I then cut each sentence strip into three or four pieces, depending on its length, and I have students work together in pairs or small groups to reassemble these strip segments so they make sense. To complete this task, students must rely on their knowledge of sentence structure (syntax), grammar, and mechanics. I have students record the reassembled sentences in their President Journals. This activity can be completed at a reading/writing center as well as independently.
Sing a Song of Presidents
Idea by Christy, Pre-K-12th Grade Tutor, Ashland, WI
To help students remember the names of all the US Presidents, I use the method that my mother, a former 5th grade teacher, used with me many years ago.
To the tune of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” I sing the following lyrics: George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. James Madison and James Monroe, John Quincy Adams… and so on until I have sung the name of every President to date. I find that when students “sing” facts, students are more likely to retain them. (Tip: For musical accompaniment, search the Web to access a complimentary audio recording of the tune.
How do you teach your students about the election process? Share with us in the comments below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums!