5 Election Activities for Your Library

election_activities_peteIt’s that time again (as if anyone could possibly forget) — the golden opportunity that comes once every four years to give kids an in-depth look at democracy in action as voters in the United States prepare to choose their next president. But in your library, the winner doesn’t have to be Clinton or Trump — how about Pete the Cat?

These five activities will help your students understand how the election process works and allow them to think about what qualities are important in a leader — it might just be someone who is an eternal optimist and whose motto is “It’s all good!”

What Makes a Good President?

Discuss with students who can be president of the United States. List each requirement on the board or a sheet of poster board. Then, in small groups, ask students to think about what other qualities they would like their president to have and why those qualities are important. Also, ask students to discuss what prior work experience they would like their prospective president to have. Have each small group write a job description for the president of the United States. Post descriptions and discuss them as a class.

Would You Like to Be President?

Read aloud If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier. Ask students to think about whether or not they would like to be president someday. List reasons students would and would not like to be president on the board. Then, ask students to write a short essay on why they would or would not like to be president of the United States. Tell them to include presidential responsibilities they think would be interesting, fun, challenging, hard, exciting, etc. Display papers on a bulletin board.

Character Campaign Posters

Discuss how candidates promote themselves. Find examples of campaign posters and buttons in the library or on the Internet that you can display and discuss. Tell students to choose a character from a book that they would like to promote for president. Ask them to think about things their character might like to change. For example, Pete the Cat might want time set aside for singing during class or for everyone to receive free magic sunglasses. Have each student design a poster promoting his or her character as president. Display and discuss final posters.

Pete for President!

Create a ballot box by covering a shoebox with red, white, and blue construction paper and cutting a slit in the top. After students have a chance to study the campaign posters, as a class select two of the characters. Display their names with a brief description of their platforms. Have kids vote on which character they would want to be president of the class. Then, promote the values of the character elected in your library. For example, if Pete the Cat was elected, students might focus on going with the flow (“It’s all good!”).

Mock Election

Introduce the major candidates for the presidential election. Discuss each candidate’s platform — what are their priorities, and what plans of action do they propose? Then, tell students they will be running for president in a mock election. Split the class into two groups or “parties.” Ask for volunteers from each group, then hold a primary vote to choose a candidate for each party. Display the names of the candidates on a bulletin board. Then, have groups brainstorm to come up with a platform for their candidate. What are their thoughts and opinions on certain issues? (Choose whether they will use school-related issues, such as shorter school days, better lunch menus, longer gym classes, etc., or national issues). Post bulleted platforms underneath the candidates’ names. Hold a debate, and have candidates answer questions about changes they would like to see happen and how they plan to make those changes happen. Then, set up the ballot box and design a voting booth so that students can vote anonymously. Graph the results as you read them aloud.

How are you teaching students about the election process? Share your ideas with your colleagues in the comments below.

Author

Elesa Swirgsdin

Elesa Swirgsdin

Upstart Editor at Demco, Inc.
Elesa is the editor for the Upstart brand at Demco and manages the content for the Collaborative Summer Library Program manuals. An avid lifelong reader, she is passionate about helping librarians inspire kids of all ages to love reading.