This year, Americans will go to the polls on November 7, 2023, to participate in the most essential aspect of our democracy, the right to vote. Although most of our students aren’t yet old enough to vote, we can still prepare them to participate in the future by emphasizing civic engagement and teaching the importance and history of voting rights.
The first thing students should know is that the right to vote and participate in government is not something that all Americans throughout history have had the privilege to enjoy. One great resource that helps students explore the history of voting rights can be found in the eMediaVA collection Voting in 10 Minutes or Less. This collection of short videos includes voting and government resources for students of all ages. Another super cute activity that can be used with younger students is to build an easy voting booth and allow students to practice voting on a classroom activity, and then discuss with students the pros and cons of the voting system.
Another wonderful resource collection to explore: The Election Collection. With these resources, you can study the history and process of elections, learn about voting rights, and engage in classroom debates with these videos, activities, and lesson plans. One activity that I think is important in showing students the difficulties that Americans have faced in the past is the Voter Registration Training Tool that was used to help prepare people to pass the voting test in the South. Just trying as a class to answer some of the questions without searching the internet for answers will show students how difficult registering to vote was. Another thought-provoking discussion could come after showing the students the video Should 16-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Vote, and then holding a class debate and election to decide the outcome.
There are so many activities that students at every age can engage in to help reinforce the importance of voting and get students excited about their future participation in governing their world.
Aubree Mitchell is a middle school librarian in Halifax County and an eMediaVA Ambassador.