Elections are an important part of living in a democracy, so we as educators need simple ways to introduce elections and the democratic process to students. Here are a few places to start as you teach younger students to be engaged citizens.
Short Educational Videos
Sometimes you need the definitions and basics condensed into a visual form. Use this video with primary grades to introduce Election Day: Election Day–All About the Holidays. Use this video with upper elementary grades to get more into the election process: Electoral Systems–Social Studies Shorts.
Students can vote on simple issues or decisions in the classroom. Should they have independent reading time or literacy stations first today? Which book should you read for the morning read-aloud? Who should be this week’s class helper? You can even make simple paper ballots and a voting box for anonymous voting.
Want to expand on your elections? My school has made this idea even bigger by having class elections for student council, which meets with the principal monthly. We also have a schoolwide Mock Election Day, where students can vote on issues the student council has discussed. Our past elections have led to the implementation of new clubs, a school store, and the naming of our school mascot. Kids feel empowered when their vote leads to change.
Learning through fiction is always fun. These books can be good conversation starters about elections and being an active citizen.
My Teacher for President by Kay Winters
Otto Runs for President by Rosemary Wells
LaRue for Mayor: Letters from the Campaign Trail by Mark Teague
Sofia Valdez and the Vanishing Vote by Andrea Beatty
The Class Election from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler
Tara Williams is an elementary librarian in Washington County Public Schools and an eMediaVA Ambassador.