Politics and elections are very important in our country. Although election time is not my favorite (because of all the negativity and division), I am so thankful to live in a place with the right to vote. In order to help the next generation learn about the democratic election process, I have compiled a list of a few election activities for elementary students to share with you today.
Host a Mock Election
Hosting a classroom mock vote is a great way to have students practice the election and voting process. Have mock candidates set up and have students pick which one they want to vote for. You can use book characters, fellow students, stuffed animals, etc.
Set up private voting booths (think of using things you already have like privacy testing folders!) and make up simple mock voting ballots. Make it fun, non-stressful and interactive for your students. If you want to take it up a notch maybe invite the whole grade level to vote in your mock election too!
Create Campaign Posters for Mock Candidates
My big tip for teaching about elections is to use mock candidates with the younger students. There is plenty of political angst and negativity in our real world and using real candidates could stir up some controversy. I would stick to mock candidates and elections if your students are third grade and under. If you are hosting a classroom mock election, let the students be involved in the campaign process by making campaign posters, flyers, pins etc.
Patriotic Crafts and Decor
Maybe you teach primary and doing a whole mock election is too much for your students, no worries. Get your students in the election spirit with some patriotic crafts to go with some favorite voting books like “Duck for President”. My students always loved that one! A no prep idea would be finding a directed drawing of the American flag or bald eagle as a super simple but cute election craft!
At my children’s elementary school’s 50th year celebration we had special guests including past principals and a local state cabinet member (who is a school alumni) come speak. It was very cool for the students to make the connection and see successful alumni in person. This would be even more meaningful with the election season rolling in and someone who can give firsthand stories and accounts on topics they are learning all about. Invite the town mayor, local senators, or representatives to your classroom.
Teach about Historical Elections
I am sure you can name a few historical elections that helped change the course of our country or world government. Pulling these elections out of the archives and teaching the next generation about them is so important. So many historical challenges, changes, and lessons in winning AND losing elections for young students to hear about not just in current events.
Create bingo cards with common election-related terms like “voting,” “ballot,” “campaign,” and “candidate.” As students hear these words during class discussions, they can mark them off. This is a great way to teach students new vocabulary.
Looking for more patriotic or Election Day ideas? Check out these related blog posts.