Election Day comes the second Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Here are some helpful election lesson plans to get young citizens ready to be future voters.
All great lesson plans begin with some great books for building vocabulary and explaining concepts.
Here are some of my favorite children’s books on elections and voting.
Election Day by Margaret McNamara (easy reader for young elementary students)
The Class Election from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler & Jared Lee (from the popular Black Lagoon series, all ages seem to love this one)
Presidential Elections & Other Cool Facts by Syl Sobel (excellent for elementary through middle school)
Candidate, campaign trail, political parties, debates, vote, Election Day,
Historical Voting Trivia:
The word “ballot” comes from the Italian word “ballota” meaning little ball. What does that have to do with voting? Read on.
In ancient Greece, people voted with small black and white marbles or even pebbles dropped into voting pots.
Roman soldiers voted uses clay balls and even beans tossed into a helmet.
In colonial America people used different colors of corn or beans to cast votes in secret.
The Survey of North American Youth Rights explores youth rights including “youth suffrage” and whether or not even younger voters, age 16, should have the right to vote. Teacher and parents may find the SNARYR website information helpful and worthy of debate.
Create a voter’s rights in American History timeline. Hand out a year to students and have them come back with some research on changes in voting rights for their year. Create a timeline to showcase everyone’s research and teamwork. This works as an excellent November bulletin board idea.
Fast facts for teachers and parents: Key years are 1789, 1821, 1870, 1920, 1965, 1971
Create campaign stickers, campaign buttons or campaign posters. Of course today’s technology savvy kids can create campaign commercial videos.
Social studies and math:
Divide into small groups and have students come up with their own system of voting. Encourage them to be creative. Try each idea and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Ideas from students have included the colored paper clip voting system in which each voter has a red and a blue paper clip. They will toss in the red for one candidate or blue for another. No one will know which paperclip voters still have unless they choose to show it.
Of course students should be aware of upcoming elections in their own state including who is running and for which positions. Have students research the voting locations in their area and create maps illustrating voting locations.
Personal teaching experience in elementary & middle school classrooms
AppleSeeds magazine, September 2008