Looking for some election learning activities? If you live in America, you’re hopefully keenly aware of the upcoming elections. No matter what TV station you’re watching, what website you Google, or what radio station you’re listening to, news about the candidates is all around us. Even though you might be wincing often and wishing the election was behind us, the constant barrage of political news actually presents a huge learning opportunity for our kids.
Rather than turning it all off and burying your head under your pillow, try to take this opportunity to teach your kids about what’s going on around them. Obviously, the older your kids are, the more you’ll be able to discuss with them. But there is learning to be had for our kids no matter how young they are. (By the way, even if you don’t live in the United States, these learning activities can be easily adapted for your country as well.)
Here are 14 Exciting Election Learning Activities:
1 – Watch Debates Together
Okay, I have to admit that I have gritted my teeth a lot while watching certain debates. But when I buckled down and watched the whole thing with my boys any way I’m AMAZED at how many conversations it sparks throughout the following days. My older son, especially, has always been fascinated by watching them. I can’t believe how many things he always notices about what was said, what wasn’t said, and the tone in which it was said. I recommend DVRing the debates so that you can watch them together the following day.
If your kids ask about why you should watch debates of governors, senators, or anyone other than people who are running for president, you can have great conversations about the various offices our politicians hold and what type of power they each hold.
2 – Discuss the Issues
There are a lot of changes going on in our country right now. And the various candidates have vastly different opinions about what the government should and should not control, about taxes, about freedom of religion, and a myriad of other things. Talk to your kids about the issues. My boys are 16 and almost 18 and we were able to discuss everything from taxes to abortion to health care.
Talk to your kids about how each candidate stands on the various issues. You’ll probably be surprised at the articulate conversations that your kids will have with you over such matters. It’s a great time to emphasize your own family values and why you believe what you believe.
3 – Listen to the News Together
Depending on the ages of your kids, this might be a good time to listen to some talk radio or news programs together. Make sure your kids know that they can interject as they have questions.
4 – Notebooking or Unit Studies
There are all sorts of lessons on the internet that you can teach to your kids. If you enjoy notebooking, Homeschool in the Woods has a great program called the U.S. Elections LapPak. If you’d like to do a unit study on the election, you can find all sorts of free ones on Pinterest or you can make your own.
5 – Read Books About Elections
Here are so many good books that help to explain the election process to our kids. Here are a few to get you started:
- If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier
- If I Were President by Catherine Stier
- Election Facts for Kids by Dan Jackson
- Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? by Richard J. Maybury
6 – Design a Campaign Poster
Google what the campaign posters of previous candidates have looked like as well as what the current candidates are using. Have your kids come up with a slogan and create a campaign poster as if they were the candidate. If they have a hard time coming up with an original design, have them find their favorite one from history and either copy it or modify it. They can do this by hand or by using a computer program such as Canva.
7 – Research Your Favorite Politician
Either have your child research one or several of the current candidates or have them choose a past candidate. Then, have them write a paper, create a poster, give a speech, create a short video documentary, etc. about what they have learned.
8 – Develop a Platform
Talk to your kids about what each current candidate stands for. Then, have your child develop a platform for improving their homeschool. See if they can come up with five ideas for improving things. (The information they give you might prove to be helpful to you.)
9 – Mock Election or Mock Debate
Let your child participate in a mock election or a mock debate. You can get as elaborate with this one as you would like. If you have a child who is very interested in politics, let him run with this activity and see how deeply he would like to go.
10 – Work on a Campaign
This is a great way for your child to get real hands-on experience. Most campaigns need volunteers to send out mailings, make phone calls, go door-to-door, and to remind neighbors to vote on election day. Contact a local campaign office to see how you can get involved.
11 – Volunteer at the Polls
This is another great hands-on experience you can set up for your teen. Many states require you to be 18-years-old to be a poll worker. However, they also have Student Election Assistant positions that your child may qualify to fill. In our state, you can fill this position if you are at least 16-years-old. Check to see what the requirements are in your state.
12 – Victory Party
This is a fun way to end your election unit. You may decide to do this BEFORE the actual election results come in (just in case your favorite candidate doesn’t win) or you can wait until a new political candidate has been chosen. Either way, make a big deal about this party and have fun. You’re celebrating the election of someone who will help to run one of the most powerful governments in the world, after all!
Here are some ideas to make the victory party super fun:
- Decorate with lots of red, white, and blue
- Make sure everyone has a flag to wave
- Play games like Pin the Beard on Abe Lincoln
- Serve cake – you can get fancy and make it red, white, and blue if you desire
- Serve some yummy appetizers
- Make sure everyone is wearing a patriotic party hat
13 – Vote
Please vote. I know there are quite a few people who are always tempted to stay home on election day. Especially during midterm years. But it’s important that we all make our voices heard on election day.
And when you vote, take your kids with you. Let them see how you make voting a priority. Go when there is at least a short line so that they can feel the excitement of casting your ballot with others. I always print a ballot off before we go and mark who/what I’m voting for so that we can discuss it freely beforehand. The poll workers don’t want you to even whisper to your kids once you get your ballot. (I learned that one the hard way one year.) But you can point to things while you’re actually voting and your kids will understand because you will have already had a conversation about it.
14 – Watch the Election Results Together
Print off maps of your state or country and have your kids color the various counties or states red and blue as they are determined. Let them stay up late this evening because they are witnessing history. Pop popcorn, have some snacks, make it into a memorable family event. If you have younger kids or if the election coverage goes well into the night as it usually does, then DVR the coverage and you can resume watching it with them in the morning.
All elections are important and we should take advantage of these opportunities to teach our kids. Try incorporating some of these election learning activities into your homeschool and you will be doing your part at raising kids who are willing to speak up, stay informed, and vote.
Have you been teaching your kids about the election? Do you have any other election learning activities you can share that have been received well by your kids? Please leave a comment below.