With the Presidential elections quickly approaching, it is the opportune time to teach about elections to students. You will be able to have real world examples and experiences for the students to be able to better understand what you are talking about in your lessons. Elementary students are experiencing elections for the first time they can remember, especially Kindergarten to second graders. It can be hard though to find the balance of subjects that should be taught; and the good thing about elections is that they incorporate all of the subjects.
1. Introducing the Subject (Reading)
Find a book that is entertaining and age appropriate to introduce the lessons to the students. Make the book one that is sure to catch the students’ attention and get them excited about learning more about the election process. You may also find a short film about the subject matter. There are plenty out there that are fun and informative that give a basic introduction to the subject.
2. Basic Vocabulary (Spelling/Vocabulary)
Elementary students need to know the basic vocabulary of an election. They need to understand at least the bare minimum, especially when they may be hearing terms such as caucus, incumbent, or partisan. Use your judgment based on their age for what they will understand. Come up with a short list of essentials to teach them.
3. Different Forms of Government (History)
Election time is an opportune time to teach the different types of government and why the Founding Fathers made America a democracy. Teach students about monarchies, constitutional monarchies, and dictatorships. You can also teach your students about the different political parties and their history in the country. Make sure that you keep the content neutral. You aren’t trying to influence them in any way, you are simply teaching them facts.
4. Electoral College Votes (Math)
Explain what the electoral college is and how candidates collect them. You can teach the students about swing states and have them find different combinations of states to add together to come up with the needed number of electoral votes to become President.
5. What Should the President Know? (Writing)
Have the students come up with a list of qualities and qualifications they think a President should have. Let them let come up with questions they would ask the candidate if they were able to. You will probably get some pretty interesting and funny questions from your students.
6. Campaigning (Art)
Have the students make campaign signs for themselves if they were running for President. Let them use their creativity to showcase what they think qualifies them to be the President. If parent/teacher conferences occur during the time display the campaign signs around the room or in the hallway, so that parents can see their child’s work. You could even hold a minor vote by having students vote on which campaign poster they think is the best.