Between presidential candidates claiming the election is being stolen and certain voters thinking the electoral college and brokered conventions are meant to steal their vote, the 2016 primary has taught me that a great many Americans don't understand how our president is actually chosen. So, in the coming months, I'm making it my mission to make sure my children do understand the process.
Fortunately, there are lots of good, free resources to help you and I teach our kids (and maybe ourselves) how our Republic works. (Because, make no mistake, even though some organizations that should know better - like Scholastic and PBS and the evening news channels - say we have a Democracy, they are wrong. In a Democracy, citizens vote for all laws and leaders are directly chosen by voting citizens. In a Republic, citizens vote for representatives who, in turn, make laws and vote for us. Learn more here.)
I want to stress that the links I'm including here are almost all appropriate for grade school kids. I feel they do a good job explaining the election process in a simple way. I hope you agree!
* Who can be president? Apply for the job! This is a fun online activity. (One correction for this site: In section 1, article 2, the Constitution says only a "natural born Citizen" can be president, but does not offer a definition. For nearly forever, this has meant the individual had American citizenship at birth, which is why someone like Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada but had an American mother, and therefore American citizenship at birth, is eligible to run for the presidency.)
* This is a good time to review the Constitution. For younger kids, I recommend The Constitution for Kids, which offers the document in easy to understand language for kids 4 - 7 and K-3rd grade.
* A step by step flow chart of how to become president.
* Most libraries carry the picture book Duck for President, which is a great place to start with young kids. Or, watch a video of the book online. You might also consider the video of Berenstain Bears Big Election, where Papa runs for mayor.
* Schoolhouse Rock video about the electoral college.
* Nice explanatory poster for electoral college.
* Electoral college coloring map. Here's another one.
* 2 minute video explaining the electoral college.
* A more detailed, cartoonish video on the electoral college.
* An excellent activity for understanding the electoral college. (Hint: If you're opposed to soda pop, that's fine. You can use almost anything your kids like - food, toys, etc. - for this activity.)
* Downloadable election lapbook pages.
* Election Day writing ideas.
* There is no download for this cute "vote for me" writing idea, but it would be easy to make, anyway.
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* "If I were president" writing printable. Also check out the "I Am President" writing page.
* "Step Inside the Voting Booth" - an online activity about the importance of everyone voting.
* Cute mock vote printables, with voter registration cards and ballots for "How Do You Like to Eat Corn?"
* Election freebie, including "If I Were President" writing activity, a candidate flipbook, candidate comparison chart, mock ballots, and "I Voted" stickers.
* And just for fun, a recipe for an "election day cake."