Like most things, kids have a tendency to learn about voting relatively early on. In fact, their voting habits as adults can typically be traced back to some of their earlier experiences in schools. When teachers work to create engaging projects where they can truly understand the importance of voting and why it matters, kids have a tendency to carry that with them throughout the rest of their lives. As a result, it’s imperative to find activities that are fun for kids which center around voting. That way, they enjoy participating. It also provides something that is a little bit different from most time spent in the classroom.
Below are 10 voting activities for kids of all ages. The truly beautiful thing here is that you can tailor each of these activities to fit the age of the class that you’re teaching. Hopefully, the students will find all of these activities engaging and through that opportunity, they will learn more about voting and its importance. At the end of the day, the goal is to help them develop a passion for having their voices heard.
10. Vote on classroom topics for an entire week
There is scarcely a student who’s ever attended school who wouldn’t love to have the opportunity to anonymously vote on various classroom topics. After all, students of all ages have a tendency to experience a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the way things are sometimes done in the classroom. By their very nature, students often want more freedom in the classroom than teachers are able or even willing to give. Being able to vote on certain topics is a great way to get kids of all ages engaged in the voting process right off the bat.
It’s also relatively easy to create a project like this. All you have to do is think of five topics that are specific to your classroom. Make sure that the topics selected are something that can actually be voted on. More importantly, ensure that they are flexible enough that there is some leeway to alter things in order to show the students that voting can and does make a difference. Simply telling them to vote on a series of topics that are specific to their classroom and then changing nothing, regardless of the outcome of the vote, isn’t going to help anything.
For example, you might decide to vote on whether or not students could have an open discussion period once a week about a current topic that’s going on in the news as opposed to assigning homework. Often, students are just waiting to have their voices heard. The opportunity to engage in a lively discussion can be much more beneficial than simply assigning text to read and questions to be answered. Of course, it’s imperative that you tailor the topics to your classroom, as previously mentioned. In addition, work to keep everything within reason so things don’t get out of hand.
9. Understand voting outcomes by creating graphs
This is an activity that some students will love more than others. It works especially well with students that excel in classes like science and math, largely because most of them tend to look at graphs and be able to discern them at a moment’s notice anyway. Having them create a graph that is directly tied to an election gives them an opportunity to see how things change on a daily basis.
These graphs can be made with construction paper for the younger kids or they can be done digitally for older children. If that doesn’t seem like a suitable activity for the majority of the class, you can create a single graph that becomes part of your classroom’s decor for the duration of the election. Each day, discuss how the election is changing based on current data and then make adjustments to the graph accordingly. This can be done easily by making a graph in sections that can be adjusted on a piece of cork board. It also provides an opportunity to engage in a discussion with students while simultaneously giving them a visual aid that they can use to gather information instantaneously.
This is a good project for kids of all ages because it can be tailored to fit virtually any class. By the same token, the complexity of the graph itself can be adjusted. In one classroom, you might be creating a very basic graph while in another, things are more detailed. It all comes down to the type of graph you decide to use and the amount of information you want to include.
8. Document candidates’ campaign promises
Everyone knows that campaign promises are a huge component of any election. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a national election or one at the local level, every politician makes loads of campaign promises. The interesting thing is in tracking those promises and then seeing how many of them are based in fact. Once the election is over, the learning experience can continue, as students can then actively track whether or not those campaign promises were kept.
This is a relatively easy activity that simply requires some open classroom discussion as well as a few homework assignments. Have the students watch the news, read through newspapers and gather a list of campaign promises made by each candidate. On the surface, it seems like a relatively straightforward project.
Like most of the projects on this list, it can be tailored to create a much deeper discussion. Educators can take the list of campaign promises and then do follow-up discussions about the importance of keeping one’s word. Most educators would relish the opportunity to help students understand how important it is to refrain from making promises that they have no intention of keeping. Talking about campaign promises is a perfect opportunity to create such a discussion. Last but certainly not least, it’s also an opportunity to talk about things like integrity. At the end of the day, most teachers want to help children better understand why they should only promise to do something they’re prepared to carry out. In reality, there are many ethics discussions that can come from this single activity.
7. Have an open discussion about the candidates
When students are in an environment where they feel like they can openly talk about something without fear of judgment, it’s often surprising how open their questions will become. Some people have the misconception that young people don’t have an opinion on things like elections because of their age. The truth of the matter is that almost everyone has an opinion that deserves to be heard. Having an open discussion in the classroom can be a great way to teach students how to state their opinion with respect and courtesy, while simultaneously setting boundaries so that each individual has an opportunity to speak.
By the same token, these types of discussions actually help prepare students for virtually everything they will do in the future. In a world where almost everyone has a tendency to communicate via text or social media, the art of communicating in person is slowly being lost. Many people simply don’t understand why it’s inappropriate to speak over others or why they need to be respectful in the way that they state things. Having these types of discussions provides not only the perfect opportunity to talk about the election, but to teach students very important skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
6. Conduct an experiment to show the importance of staying informed
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about an election or something else, no one can make an accurate decision without complete information. This experiment is designed to show students why it’s so important to stay informed. However, there is so much more that can be learned from an activity like this. It can also serve as a springboard to help students understand why it’s important to be choosy in the sources of information they listen to. When conducted correctly, such an experiment can prove that listening to information from questionable sources often leads to mistakes in judgment.
This experiment can be done in a manner of different ways. It could be as simple as providing a wide range of information about something specific, with some of the information being correct and some of it incorrect. It’s then up to the students to do their research and figure out who they can trust for correct information. For older children, the experiment can also bring in more information from the real world, such as discussing certain news outlets and whether or not they are typically found to be objective sources for information. The discussion can then go on to discuss why some of these outlets are more reliable than others.
5. Create word search puzzles based on current candidates
This is typically a good project for students that are anywhere from 10 to 13 years old, although it can be tailored to fit students who are both younger and older than this age range. There are two different ways that you can go about creating a project like this. The first is to purchase word search puzzles that are geared toward elections and then have the students solve them. Alternatively, educators can create the puzzles themselves and then distribute them to the class.
If you want to allow the class to have a bit more creative license, you can allow the students to create the puzzles and then have them solve each other’s work. Of course, this requires working with students who are old enough to create these types of puzzles. The other thing that teachers have to look out for is making sure that any puzzles created by students are appropriate for the classroom. With the right class and the right supervision, this can become an in-depth creative project that could serve as an ideal assignment for the week.
4. Learn about the struggles people have overcome in order to vote
There are so many cultures where people have had to overcome all kinds of hurdles in order to vote. It’s important that educators talk about these types of things with students because it demonstrates how important voting really is. It’s equally important to talk about various cultures around the world, not just your own.
The idea is to help students understand what it’s like to be willing to lay down one’s life in order to have the right to vote, something that is often taken for granted today. It’s equally important to make sure the students understand that there are still a number of countries around the world where voting is not a right extended to everyone. The idea is to instill a sense of duty in them so that they understand the importance of having their voices heard in the voting booth.
3. Create art projects based on the election
This is a great idea for any art class. Kids who love to create art will often come up with their own rather innovative projects. If you need some pointers, there are plenty of different ways that you can use any election going on at the time to create some type of basis for an art project. The idea is to let the kids create the projects and then see what each one of them comes up with. It’s important to let them have as much creative reign as possible. Things that kids might not be willing to talk about openly often come out in art projects. Allowing them to create at their own pace is a great way to see what’s really on their minds.
2. Have an essay contest
While some kids love creating art projects, others would far prefer to write something down. As such, you can have an essay contest that centers around a few different topics related to the election. Conversely, you can create an essay contest where each child can come up with their own topic as long as it pertains to the election in some manner. Set forth basic rules and guidelines, create a deadline and then find a way to make it interesting by giving a small prize to the winner of the contest.
It’s important that additional educators be involved in deciding the winner so that the kids learn what it’s like to create a project that isn’t going to be judged by a single individual. That way, there is less chance of anyone feeling like favorites have come into play in deciding who wins the contest.
1. Organize a photo essay project
Last but certainly not least, you can have students organize an essay project through photographs. Photo essays can be immensely interesting because they take the best aspects of an art project and an essay contest and combine them together. The ability to tell a story through photos is a powerful one. As such, it’s something that will benefit the students as they learn how to do this effectively. In many cases, it also benefits the educators because it gives them an opportunity to learn something new about each of their students.