Political Systems & World Politics Activities for High School

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

When your high school students are studying political systems and world politics, you have a great opportunity to help them raise their awareness of the world. This lesson offers some relevant activity ideas.

Global Awareness

Would you like your students to have global political awareness? Do you think ignorance about other countries is dangerous as it creates intolerance? Any activity you give your students on the topics of political systems and world politics is a step in increasing their global awareness.

Let's take a look at some activity ideas that put knowledge of world political systems in perspective.

Basic Political Systems

For this activity, your students would know about the basic political systems: democracy, federal republic, monarchy, socialism and dictatorship.


To learn about real examples of countries with different political systems


  • Plastic bag
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Computer and printer
  • Projector for student presentations


  1. Make a list of countries that have different political systems and cut them out in pieces (e.g., Germany for democracy, Argentina for federal republic, United Arab Emirates for monarchy, Cuba for socialism, Syria for dictatorship). Put the pieces of paper in a plastic bag.
  2. Have each student pick a piece of paper.
  3. Have students find out about the political system that rules their country.
  4. Have students make a presentation on their country (ideally with visual aids), discussing the political system, the current representative in power, the implications for government.

Analysis of Political Systems

In this activity, your students exercise critical thinking to analyze different political systems.


To identify advantages and disadvantages of different political systems


  • Computer/internet access in school for students who do not have it at home


  1. Assign a different political system to each of your students. (More than one student would have the same political system.)
  2. Ask your students to review all the information they have learned and write a one-page essay on 'Advantages and Disadvantages of _____. It is okay for your students to search on the internet if they cannot think of any advantages on certain political systems (e.g., dictatorship). The idea is that your students open their minds to different perspectives on various political systems rather than just referring to textbook facts.

Direct Versus Indirect Democracy

In this activity, your students simulate the way direct democracy works as opposed to indirect democracy. You will need approximately one hour to role-play elections in a direct democracy and another hour to role-play the indirect democracy elections.


To differentiate between the election process in a direct democracy as opposed to indirect democracy


  • Two sets of ballots (The first set should be blank; the second set should have at the bottom the name of a US State and the number of electoral votes the winning candidate in the state will get. You could include the names of several different states across ballots, e.g., 'California = 55 votes,' 'Florida = 35 votes,' etc.)
  • Box to deposit votes

Directions for Direct Democracy

  1. Present your students with two fictional presidential candidates.
  2. Have students vote on ballots you give them (the first set) and put all their votes in a sealed box. This represents the popular vote that determines who the next president is.
  3. Count the votes for each candidate and declare the one who has the majority of votes as the new president.
  4. Facilitate a student discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of direct democracy.

Directions for Indirect Democracy

  1. Present your students with two fictional presidential candidates.
  2. Have students vote on ballots you give them (the second set) and put all their votes in a sealed box.
  3. Count the votes and determine how many electoral votes each candidate gets.
  4. Divide the class into representatives to the electoral college.
  5. Give each student the number of votes her/his choice equals in the electoral college. For example, if you have 5 students representing California, give each of them 11 votes to cast to total California's 55 votes for the candidate who won the state.
  6. Have the student electoral college representatives vote and the candidate who gets the majority of votes is the new president.
  7. Facilitate a student discussion the advantages and disadvantages of indirect democracy.

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