Voting Lesson Plans

Presidential elections come every four years but it is never to early to start educating young voters. Try these presidential election plans for your lesson plans on voting in America.

There are a great variety of both fiction and non-fiction books on the Presidential elections.  Here is a sample of my favorite books on Presidential elections. 

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin & Betsy Levin (best seller)

If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier & Lynne Avril

Presidential Elections & Other Cool Facts by Syl Sobel (published in 2001, covers up to the Gore-Bush race)

Reading a variety of books on Presidential elections and voting will help to build vocabulary and a framework for understanding Presidential election concepts.

Presidential election year vocabulary:

Candidate, campaign trail, political parties, debates, vote, Election Day, primaries, Constitution, Electoral College, conventions, Inauguration Day, POTUS, dangling chad

(No, I am really not kidding.  The dangling chad events are very relevant to lessons of voting and elections.)

Fast Facts for Parents and Teachers: Timeline of Voting Rights in America

1789:  The Constitution creates the federal government and leaves voting rights up to individual states.  Most states only allow Caucasian, property owning males over the age of 21 to vote. 

1821:  New York State becomes the first of many to drop the property ownership requirements.  Now the poor can vote as well, as long as they are male and white of course. 

1870:  The Constitution is amended.  The 15th Amendment gives African American men the right to vote. 

1920:  The 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote.

1965:  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is passed that makes any voting practices that make it difficult for African Americans to vote, such as harassment, illegal.

1971:  As young American soldiers are dying in the war in Vietnam, many people believe it is unfair that these young men can fight but not vote.  The 26th Amendment to the Constitution lowers the voting age to 18.

Presidential Election Activities:

Presidential election writing topics

Is 18 a fair age for voters?  Why or why note?

Are eight year term limits ideal?  Why or why not?

Which Presidential elections laws would you change and why?

Presidential election math ideas

Create word problems for students to figure out what year it will be when they are old enough to vote.  Also, based on the four year Presidential election cycles, how old will they be the first time they vote for President?  Considering eight-year term limits, how many Presidents (most and then least) could there be before they are old enough to vote?

Presidential election social studies activities 

Have students divide into small groups and come up with their own unique ideas for voting.  One group of students came up with the idea to vote with two colors of building blocks.  Students went behind a curtain and added either a blue or green block so that after all votes were cast and the curtain was revealed there was a visual, the tallest tower, that let it be known which candidate had been elected. Before the election could be confirmed, the total number of blocks had to be counted and matched to the number of voters since their were many of either color available behind the curtain.

Presidential election art activities

Create a bulletin board with a timeline of voter’s rights in America illustrated with “headlines.”

Create “cereal box” campaign ads.

Create bumper stickers or buttons encouraging voter turn out. 

 Sources:

Personal teaching experience in elementary & middle school classrooms

AppleSeeds magazine, September 2008

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A4%2Ck%3AElections&page=1