AUGUST 18, 2020
Around 138 million people voted in the 2016 Presidential Election, which is only 58.1% of our voting-eligible population (those American citizens over 18).* Americans have the privilege of choosing their leader. Yet, almost half stay home.
If we want to see an increase in the number of people engaged in our electoral process (local or nationall!), we need to start in schools—ensuring that young people understand how the electoral process works and the importance of being an informed voter.
Here are some ideas that will engage and excite your students around election learning.
Start Teaching About Elections Early
Teaching about elections can begin during the very first week that classes resume. Are you starting the year on the foundations of government or focusing on citizenship and participation? Use key dates like September 17 and September 22.
Why September 17? September 17 marks Constitution Day. Use lesson plans from our unit, Road to the Constitution, to help students learn about how the U.S. Constitution was created and what some of its key characteristics are.
You can also task students with exploring key amendments and their application in protecting citizens’ rights with our game, Do I Have a Right?
Why September 22? National Voter Registration Day is September 22. Ensure that your students who are eligible to vote know how and where they can register. For students who are not yet eligible to vote, you can focus on why we register to vote and why voting even matters. Explore the evolution of voting rights in the U.S., and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of voting by mail.
Creative Remote Learning Ideas
Host a Mock Election: Instead of just having students vote for their favorite candidate on Election Day, prepare for Election Day by holding your own mock elections. This lesson can be adapted for remote classrooms!
Start Election Lessons with Gameplay: Task students with playing a game like Win the White House before you dive into teaching about the Election. This will give them ideas on how to build arguments relevant to them and help them understand all of the elements that go into running for a position. They can also discover what it takes to become an informed voter with our game, Cast Your Vote.
Practice Voting: Divide your class into parties (you can encourage students to design
their own third-party!). Then have students nominate candidates from their parties, give speeches or participate in a debate on an issue important to them, and then host a class vote. You could use a mail-in ballot if your students are remote. You can also hold your classroom election on the same day adults are voting for a presidential or local official.
Infuse Local Relevance: After an election, examine the results as a class, specifically those from your community. Discuss implications of new policies or elected leaders. Then look at election results throughout the country to give students a national picture.
Additional Election Teaching Resources
If you're looking for the best 2020 Election curriculum and teaching tools, check out our free resources. We have dozens of infographics, activities, lesson plans, and WebQuests that will help your kids learn about civics in the classroom.