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The Teacher's Guide to the U.S. Election

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It's that time of year when educators are helping their students understand what all the buzz is about with elections and voting. Need resources to support your lessons? This guide includes lessons, discussion questions, lesson plans and activities that can help you teach a variety of students.

Talking About Elections in the Classroom

Your students are probably hearing a lot about the elections outside of the classroom and what they learn in class will be valuable in helping them understand everything that's going on. This resource will provide teachers with engaging resources they can use to help their students understand elections in the United States.

Elections Video Lessons

A great way to kick off your elections lessons is by teaching your students about the U.S. presidential elections. Show them this short video lesson to help them understand the history of these elections and the process for electing the president.

After your students have watched the video, check their understanding with these quiz questions:

  • Why do we say that America does not have a system of direct elections?
  • What did the Twenty-Second Amendment do?
  • How many electors does each state get in the electoral college?

Additional Video Lessons

Looking for more elections-related video lessons to share with your students? Here are some options:

Teaching Kids About the Elections

If you're teaching elementary students, you can help them understand why, once they're old enough, they should exercise their right to vote with 'What is Voting Important? - Lesson for Kids.'

A child learns from home

Share this lesson with your students:

What Are Elections?

An election is when leaders are chosen for public offices or jobs by voters. Elections can be held for people who have local jobs. An example of a local leader is a mayor, who works to help make life better for people living in their town or city. There are also elections for state and national leaders, like your state's governor.

So where do people go to vote? There are sites called polling places, which are usually public buildings like schools or libraries where people who live close by can come and vote.

Voting History

Can you imagine a time when certain groups of people were not allowed to vote? Sadly, this happened in our country not very long ago. Up until 1920, only white men were allowed to vote. However, women and African Americans fought for the right to vote, which is often referred to as suffrage. So while everyone should vote, it is especially important that women and African Americans vote today, to honor those who fought hard for this right.

Voting Can Improve Communities

Imagine a school building, maybe the one where you are a student. Who decided to construct this building? Who decided that you would go to this particular school? Local leaders made these decisions, and they are people who are voted into these jobs. When you vote, you get to have a say in who these leaders are. You can also choose state and national leaders, who make laws that improve the lives of people living in their state.

Voting Can Create Change

If you are unhappy with something, what do you do? Complain about it, or make a change to make it better? Voting is a way that people can create change. A person running for or holding a public office is called a politician. Examples of politicians are state representatives and the President of the United States. If voters feel like a politician is not doing a good job, or they feel that the job needs to be done differently, their votes can create a change. They can elect a different politician to do a better job.

Testing Their Knowledge

Children answer questions in class

After you've gone over the importance of voting with your students, use these quiz questions to test their knowledge:

  • The right to vote is often referred to as _____, and certain groups in the United States had to fight for the right to vote.
  • Voters choose leaders in a process called a(n) _____.
  • What should someone do if they do not like the way a politician is doing his or her job?

Further Learning

Of course, there's a lot more to teach your students related to the elections. Here are some additional lessons for kids that can help them learn about U.S. elections:

More Election Resources for Teachers

Access our other guides for election discussion questions, activities and ESL resources.

Study.com has a large library of resources and features designed just for teachers! Learn more about how our teacher membership can support your students.

By Jessica Lyons
October 2020
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