Voting is an important part of being an American. It is a both a right and a privilege to vote for elected officials who will determine the policies and speak up for what we believe in.
Every fall I like to do a mini-unit on elections to walk my students through the importance of voting and a basic introduction to the two-party system and the election of the United States President.
I wanted to share some of the resources and activities I use to give you ideas to simplify your lesson planning and engage your students.
First I start out the unit with a question: Which is better – Cats or Dogs?
I record their answers in a tally chart and then we make a pie chart to show the percentage of the class that prefers dogs vs. those that prefer cats. According to their votes, I declare a winner of the best animal contest. I explain to the class that this is a simplified form of the concept of voting and elections.
Next we read a picture book, If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier. It’s a fun book that details the process of running of president in an engaging way that kids can relate to.
I ask the students some questions to spark their imaginations and assess their prior knowledge about elections:
- Has anyone ever thought about what it would be like to be the President?
- Have any of you ever been to a polling station to vote with your grown-up?
- How old do you need to be to vote? What year will you be able to vote?
- What is the list of candidates you can vote for called?
- What about some positions we vote for on a ballot?
- Do you know this state’s governor? (senate members, etc.)
Then we complete a flip book to learn some of the important features of voting: the definition, who can vote?, political parties, and the process of electing the president. I have created both a print and digital version so you can choose what will work best for your students.
After the students have filled out their Voting flip book I give them the 10-question quiz to assess their comprehension.
Next, my students get some real-world practice voting! I give them each a ballot and have them check off the item/activity they prefer in each section. We also do a small classroom election to give students who want a chance to run the opportunity to campaign and run for “office.”
In the end, I give each student an exit ticket and have them write something they learned about voting on it. These tickets go on a bulletin board so everyone can read some important facts about voting when standing outside our classroom.
All of these activities are also included in a DIGITAL version if you’re a paperless classroom and/or are doing distance learning this fall.
Well, there you have it! A quick and easy overview of voting/elections that will teach, evaluable, and engage your elementary students. You can download all of these activities from my TPT store here: