Activities

For Teaching About Elections

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Activities:

We the People (jigsaw): The teacher will divide the students into groups of four. Each member of the group will get a section to read from the book We the People. The sections are about a citizen's right to vote, the Electoral College, the three branches of government, and the President's responsibilities (or other topics can be selected). They are to jigsaw their section and once they have become expert on it, they are to share what they learned with their base group. Materials: copies of the selections for students to read. Time: 30 min.
Government Concentration: The students or teacher can create a concentration game where students match a government vocabulary word or concept with a definition. Vocabulary, amendments, Presidents and the years they served can all be used. Students can play with a partner and see who gets the most matches. Materials: paper, markers, resource books. Time: 30-45 min. to make the game. 20 min. on two days to play and review.
Journal Entries: Students can write journal entries including facts they have learned, thoughts they had concerning elections, questions they have, or ideas they have concerning presidential elections. They teacher then could read them and have a question answer day, answering the students questions. Materials: paper, folders. Time: 10-20 min. each day during the unit.
Panel Discussion: Teacher can invite elected officials into the classroom to have a panel discussion. Students can prepare questions concerning what they people do, how they were nominated, how they ran their campaign, or other questions of interest. Materials: Pre-prepared questions. Time: 45 min-1 hour.
If I were President: After discussing the responsibilities of the President, the teacher can give the students the writing topic, If I were President…. The students can write about what they would do or what they would change if they were President. Materials: paper, pencils. Time: 30-45 min.
Cooperative Group: The teacher will discuss different political parties and some of the issues they stand for. The students in cooperative groups will create their own political party, design a symbol to represent them, and will decide where they stand on certain issues. They will then present their information to the class. Materials: paper, markers, and crayons. Time: 1 hour.
Role-Play: After learning about the signing of the Declaration of Independence students can be given parts and can act out what happened. They can make props or costumes and act out the signing of the document. Materials: paper, markers, fabric, wigs, anything to make costumes. Time: 1 hour for 2 days.
NeTime Line: The students will get in groups of 3-4 and create a time line. The time line should include important dates concerning elections. For example: the first election, women receiving the right to vote, blacks receiving the right, the decision to make 18 the legal age to vote and other dates. The teacher can provide students with the events; the students should look up the date of the event. They should make their timeline and display it in the classroom. Materials: large mural paper, markers, and books to look up the dates. Time: 45 min.
Map Skills: Students can research information concerning elections assigned by the teacher. For example: which states vote republican, which have the most electoral votes, which have the most registered voters and so on. They then can create maps and color-code them with the information they discovered. Materials: Paper, copies of the map of the United States, colored pencils. Time: 1 hour.
Campaign volunteer guest speaker: The teacher can invite a guest speaker to talk about the experience of volunteering on a campaign. They can speak about what they do personally or what others do. They might also speak about where campaign funds come from and the purpose of campaigns. The students could prepare questions concerning campaign information. Materials: none. Time: 45 min. - 1 hour.
Word Search: The teacher can create a word search including vocabulary words about government and elections. The students then can see how many words they can find in the word search. Materials: word search. Time: 15-20 min.
Jeopardy: Students or teacher can write their own jeopardy questions including information learned throughout the unit. The teacher then can divide the class into teams and play jeopardy. Materials: timers, cards for questions. Time: 20-30 min. to write questions, 30 min. to play.
Internet Search: Students can look up information about elections and the different candidates. They can research different issues and see where the candidates stand and then write a short paper on which person the student would vote for and why. Materials: computers, Internet access, and paper. Time: 1 hour for computer search, 30 min. to write paper.
Write a Song or Ad: Students can create a song, ad, or jingle, to promote either one of the candidates running for President or to promote their own party they created. The song or ad should include information on the issues the party stands for. Materials: tape recorder, instruments. Time: 1 hour
Constitution Play: Students can write a play including all the information about how the constitution was written and the people who played a significant role in its development. They can create costumes, props, and then perform it for parents or other 5th grade classes. Materials: resource books, costumes, props, paper, pencils. Time: 1 hour for 5 days.

Culminating Activities:

Classroom Campaign: The children will all be involved in a mock process for the whole process of nominating, supporting, and electing a person to office. Campaign materials and platforms may be developed surrounding issues in the classroom of in the school. A debate may be held. Children will carry out roles, such as candidates, current elected officials, campaign managers, press, etc. Materials: In the classroom. Time: 5 days, 45 minutes per day.
Visiting the Mayor: Now that they are informed on the whole process of being elected and some of the responsibilities of leaders, children will be interested to meet the mayor and see what he/she does, where he/she works, etc. The children will be able to ask thoughtful questions of the mayor about being nominated, campaigning and being elected. He/she may desire to reinforce the importance of the vote to the children. Materials: Permission slips, transportation. Time: 1.5 hours.