I love it when the Presidential Election rolls around every 4 years. It’s fun to teach this amazing democratic process. I think it’s critical for students to understand the process because they’ll be of voting age before we know it!
I focus on the two major candidates. I do point out that there are some third-party candidates but I don’t put too much emphasis on them. They are important but I don’t want to overload my students with too much information. Also, when they watch television or look at social media, they will generally only see the major candidates.
Before you start talking about candidates, issues, or the election process, you must have a serious conversation with your students about being objective and avoiding personal attacks. Our students usually hear a great deal of opinions from their parents and they bring those opinions with them to school. Sometimes the things they hear aren’t very nice, so I establish ground rules early! I do have an example of this from my own classroom. Just last week, I handed out our weekly issue of “Time for Kids.” The issue was about the Presidential Candidates. At the end of the day, I noticed that one of my students had drawn devil horns and had written rude comments on one of the candidates. I haven’t started talking about the election or candidates yet, so this shows me that my students already have some strong ideas about the candidates. I want my students to investigate the issues and form their own opinions. This will help them to develop critical thinking.
Here are the ground rules I use with my students:
- We will look at the candidates and issues with an open mind.
- We will state our opinions with respect and kind words.
First, I will introduce the candidates in my classroom using these two short video clips from Nickelodeon.
Second, I will use some activity centers to help my students learn about the electoral college, the candidates’ biographies, issues, and more. I found this great product on TPT that I’m going to use. The teacher who created this did a fantastic job being objective and fair with the candidates! Check it out here:
Third, I will hold a mock election in my classroom. This is a lot of fun for the kids and for me. It’s simple… Explain what “voter registration” means and why they must register to vote as soon as they turn 18. Then, have students fill out their “Voter Registration Cards.” A day or two before the real election, provide each student with a ballot and then tally the votes. I like to announce the winner on the same day that America’s choice for President is announced. If you need Voter Registration Cards and Ballots, click here for a free download:
I hope you enjoy teaching the Presidential Election! Thanks for reading!