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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Election Day Learning

It's about time, teachers, for Election Day!

Regardless of your political leanings, you will want to share some lessons about this fundamental rite of democracy.

Mock elections are fun, but not always easily understood by children. Most elementary students will find the political platforms of the candidates unfathomable. (Adults, too?!?) In a mock election, then, they will most likely vote for the candidate their parents support. That's fine, just not packed with learning.

There are ways to make it comprehensible, however. Even primary students can grasp the process when you apply the election to a subject they understand. Take ice cream, for example.

(Yes, please!  I'll take chocolate chip mint on a waffle cone.)

Hold an election to determine your children's favorite flavor. Begin by dividing your class into 2 equitable groups. Each group, i.e., caucus, will discuss their favorite flavors of ice cream. Through persuasive discourse, i.e., campaigning, each group will come to consensus about the best flavor, i.e., candidate. If consensus is difficult to achieve, you may even conduct primary elections.

Once the 2 flavors are selected, i.e., nominated, your students can begin trying to persuade their friends, i.e., constituents, to support their flavor, i.e., candidate. Posters, speeches, bumper stickers, etc. are all appropriate.  Rallies might best be saved for recess.

Students will need to register to vote. Election judges will check voters off their lists before giving them a ballot.

Once the polls close, the election judges will tally the votes and declare the winner. A post- election celebration may be in order -- featuring the winning flavor, of course! [If you are able to enlist the help of parents, have them count the ballots and announce the winner by distributing ice cream of the winning flavor.]

Don't you just love all the learning that this experience will bring your students? Maybe the elected flavor is not their very favorite, but they will learn about the art of compromise, majority opinions, and the election process.  

A mock election will have far greater impact when conducted around a subject that has meaning for children. 

Take TIME today to appreciate someone who does something you take for granted.


  1. Great ideas to help children understand the election process. Thanks!