Teach children about the election by staging a kid-friendly vote

Sarah’s got a fantastic idea for teaching kids about the decision-making process that goes on before voting:

I was reading some stuff online the other day about schools having kids "vote" in the presidential election. The part that disturbed me the most about having young children vote is that they have no way of comprehending the issues because they’re so young. So I thought of having a mock election with issues that the kids can relate to, and showing them that they probably wouldn’t agree with every issue and would have to make a choice and compromise.

I came up with what I think will be a fun way for my kids learn about the election.

The candidates:

Mrs. Smith

Allows 2 pieces of candy after every meal
Makes children go to sleep at 7:30 pm every night
Favorite color is pink
Makes you clean your room every day
Takes children to the park every day

Mrs. Clark

Never allows candy in the house
Lets children stay up as late as they want to
Favorite color is blue
Lets children make messes and rarely clean up
Doesn’t take children to the park very often at all

The way to participate is simple: have your kids decide on a candidate and vote by tonight. Tally the votes. Talk about the results.

This would be such a great activity for the kids at all the Election Night get-togethers happening around the country tonight.

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  1. Tracy says

    Nifty idea! My kids’ schools both held mock elections. My youngest (in preschool) voted for one of two of the animal characters that represent different areas of learning at their school. My oldest (in kindergarten) voted for different storybook characters. I think his choices were Arthur, Curious George and Cat in the Hat. He was a bit disappointed that Curious George won and he had voted for Cat in the Hat.

  2. says

    I plan to use this too, word for word. I like how the writer has set up a scenerio we often deal with as voters. Few candidates will give 100 percent of what you want, so you have to choose the one with the most qualities you like.

    I also plan to have a discussion about voting for what’s best for the household vs. what you selfishly might like best. Excellent lesson!

  3. says

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  4. Martha says

    This is a truly great start, but I’d like it even better if it were broadened so it isn’t “all about me.” For kids older than first or second grade, I’d also like to see some complexity factored into both choices that would force them to weigh what they saw as most important. Then they might have to choose to give up a facet of one choice that they liked in order to vote for another choice that offered something they see as more important or valuable.

  5. Tom says

    As the children get older, you could also try to rework it so that the trade-offs are framed as direct consequences of the policies chosen.

    For example, Ms. Clark doesn’t have time to take the children to the park, because she is so busy cleaning up the children’s rooms. Ms Smith makes the children clean their rooms and consequently has more time to do things for them. Ms. Smith allows two pieces of candy after every meal, but only if they eat their vegetables…etc.

  6. says

    Gee- and my children who seem unable to ever choose between A and B, always wanting either both or neither, are unable to decide. “Do grownups HAVE to vote?” We’ve got work to do here….