How To Teach Young Kids About Elections : Resources

 

This is the first election year that my kids are old enough to really understand what's going on.  

Four years ago my oldest understood the concept of voting, and was rooting for our candidate.  What he was thankfully spared from was all the nastiness that happened both before and after the election.  I wish our children were growing up in a more civil time. So often the political vitriol becomes the focus and we forget there is beauty in this election process too.


Beauty, you may ask?  In an election year?  Yes, I think so.  The more I review the electoral process in preparation for teaching it to my kids, the more I'm reminded of how brilliant our system of government is.  Those Founding Fathers, despite all the flack they get when people look back on some of their flaws and sins now, really knew what they were doing when it comes to government.

Despite the usual angst that election years bring, I'm actually really enjoying the part where I get to teach my kids how it all works!  We've started digging into a few resources, and I want to share the ones that I've found so far for teaching civics to young children.  Alot of civics curricula for homeschoolers are aimed at middle and high school, but you can still find some good resources for the younger set too.

Our Spine

Before I start, I have to say that a "spine" resource that I've been using is actually a civics curriculum for K-12 grade that is put out by my state's homeschool organization.  I was skeptical when I saw that it was supposed to cover such a big age range, but it really is written in an understandable way for young kids, and is also adaptable for different ages.  One chapter is specifically geared toward our state, but most of the information is about the federal government and good citizenship, including a very thorough chapter on the electoral process. And the best part to me is that it is written from a Christian perspective, which can sometimes be hard to find in civics resources for younger kids.  I haven't read through the whole thing, but the electoral process chapter is great so far!  If you are interested, I do think it is worth the money.  Just skip the state history chapter if you aren't in my corner of the country!

One More Thing...

I will say that doing a review of the electoral process yourself is so helpful and important before attempting to teach it to your kids.  If you are a little fuzzy on some aspects of our elections (who isn't, really?), I'd say do a little research yourself first.  I am reading through the chapter in our civics book before I go over it with my kids, and I also picked up The Everything American Government Book for myself. Not only is it a nice refresher for me on certain election aspects, but I think it will be a great resource to have on hand as my kids grow. The pages I've read so far seem mostly bipartisan.  Though let's be honest, it's hard to have a purely bipartisan book about government - every person will always find something to disagree with.  But I think it's doing pretty well so far.

On to the kids' resources!


Picture Books

Today On Election Day - This book is written from the perspective of an elementary school boy that is excited to see people coming to vote at his school on Election Day.  I explained some of the terms further to my kids as we read.  This is a good resource for younger elementary kids in my opinion.  It doesn't tell about the whole electoral process, but it explains the experience of Election Day itself.  I'd say it's bipartisan.

America Votes: How Our President Is Elected - This book looks like it will be a quick read, but it is actually very dense.  There is alot of information packed into these pages.  It includes some topics, such as the history of voting, detailed explanations about different aspects of campaigning, etc., that might be more interesting to older kids, but I think you could easily pick and choose which pages to read to keep it simpler for younger kids.  So far it seems to be bipartisan.

Woodrow For President: A Tail Of Voting, Campaigns, And Elections - This is the story of a kind-hearted mouse that runs for office in mouse-world.  In the process, this book teaches about how elections, campaigns, political parties, conventions, and debates work.  It covers a surprising amount of information for a storybook format!

Duck For President - This book is purely for fun.  Hardly anything is covered about the political process, but Duck's antics in running for leader of the farm, then mayor, then governor, then President, are amusing.  I also used this as a springboard to talk about how complicated it is to be the leader of an entire nation.



Videos

History For Kids: How We Elect The President - My kids loved the format of this DVD - it tells about the electoral process, including a summary of the electoral college, with game-show type questions as it goes. My kids loved shouting out their answers to the questions!  Mostly bipartisan, but all the real-life video clips that were inserted were of Democrats, so make of that what you will.

History For Kids: Running For President - Some of the same information as the video I listed above, but goes a little more in detail about the electoral college and campaigns.

Note: Couldn't find the two videos above online (weird), but I'd recommend checking your library!  My library has the whole series.

Prager U "Do You Understand The Electoral College" - This video explains what the electoral college is, and the advantages in using this method of electing our President.  If you think we should eliminate the electoral college, you should watch this video to fully understand why the electoral college is a good thing.  Like I said, the Founders knew what they were doing!  We watched it all together, even though alot of it was over my kids' heads, and then afterward I explained the main points in more accessible language to them.  Dare I say, I think my little 4th-grade-and-under crowd got it?

Learn Our History: Election Day, Choosing Our President - This is put out by Mike Huccabee, so it's coming from a conservative perspective - which is a good thing for our family but you may want to know that ahead of time.  The bully of the school is running for class president so he can take away the grading system that he claims is "not fair".  The kids travel through history to learn about how elections were established, how debates work, and by the end one of them decides to run against the bully, and the common-sense candidate wins.  I was a little worried this would be over my kids' heads, but they seemed to enjoy it - they watched it twice!  Older-style animation, but we don't mind that in our house.


Activities

(Affiliate link below.)

Election Activities For Voters Of All Ages - This is a case of impeccable timing - my blog buddy Elizabeth just released an Election Activities pack, and I jumped at the chance to check it out!  There are three different levels of activities, spanning from preschool/kindergarten age, to grade school, to middle school.  There are copyworb pages, word searches, mazes, and other worksheets, along with printable to hold a "favorite dessert" election, and pages to track the results of the electoral college on election night.  I am so glad to have found this.  Everything I could think of to bring an election year alive for my kids is in this pack, and I love how so many of the activities are applicable for elementary school.  This activity pack goes beyond the "holding a faux election" idea, and gives a lot of other activities to work with.  It's also totally bipartisan. Highly recommend it!  I am definitely going to take advantage of the election night trackers and have my biggest kiddos watch on election night with my husband and me.  



I'll add more resources to this post as I find more, but these are the things I am using so far this year to teach my kids about the electoral process!  I think we all have been enjoying it and making fun memories surrounding the election this year - and that's a big blessing to me.  I love that even when elections can get so contentious, we can still have some fun appreciating the process.








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Sarah said...

I'm so glad you wrote this! It's one of the topics I want to cover with AB at home.

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