Voting education has largely been dropped from curriculum if it isn’t a presidential election year. This is even more true in the elementary schools because we fool ourselves into thinking, “they have many years before they can vote.”
An Election Every Year
There is an election every single year. Every. Single. Year.
There is a Presidential Election, a Mid-Term Election, and two Off-Year Elections. This is true regardless of where you live and every single election is very important. But voter participation is low and the turnout rate for off-year elections is abysmally low. In fact, I bet if you are actually reading this, there is a good portion of you that are thinking, “Really? An election every year?”
Yes. There is an election every single year.
How Can We Fix This?
Teach about voting, not just government in schools. Voting should be discussed every single year and small children should be aware of voting from their first year in public school.
This doesn’t mean you discuss politics with them. This doesn’t mean you spend time teaching kindergarteners about the pros and cons of each political party. But spending time talking to them about how voting is important, voting happens every year, and begin to differentiate between local, state, and federal governments will help the youngest future voters want to vote.
Apples and Oranges: Election Edition
I made resource for my son before adjusting it for sale. He has been accompanying his father and I to vote in every primary and election since he was born but he never understood what we were doing. I created this non-political lesson to help him understand what voting actually accomplishes.
Each student either creates a booklet or you prepare the pages ahead of time and the students complete the booklet.
My son completed the lesson himself and colored it for me.
The students are presented with a small list of facts about the two candidates – an apple and an orange. Think of this aspect as a campaign where the candidates are presenting their reasons for being elected.
In the end, students consider which candidate they prefer, color the page of their candidate, and cast their ballot!
Included are “stickers” you can print, cut, and with a little tape, give each student an “I Voted” sticker to celebrate their participation in democracy! (Or you can purchase any of my “I Voted” stickers that print on Avery labels. Click the links to see each design. Flag Decor. Star Decor. Blank Sticker. I Voted Sticker Bundle.)
Once all of the students have voted, tally the ballots and announce the winner. No politics. No angry parent phone calls because you somehow insulted their political affiliations. Perfect for kindergarten and first grade.
Common Core Aligned
For those who are looking for Common Core Aligned resources, this resource meets another criteria. Students have an optional writing response that aligns with the Common Core standards RI.K.1, RI.K.2, RI.K.3, RI.1.1, RI.1.2, RI.1.3, W.K.8, W.1.8.
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