The election process and the Presidential election are part of what makes the United States unique. But we all know that the election process can be complicated and confusing. However, we can break down the process into bite size chunks that our students can understand. We can help them truly understand the Presidential election process.
Road to the White House
Help your students understand the long and windy road that a candidate takes to reside at the White House. So often, our students have a very simplistic view of elections. They’ve have schoolyard votes with friends or simple elections in the classroom. Help them understand the more complicated process involved in running for President.
A great way for students to visualize the process is with a diagram that is similar to a flow chart. While looking at a diagram is great – creating one is even better!
These printable and foldable Road to the White House steps are the perfect way to get your students involved in the learning. Students will learn about the steps in the Presidential election process and put them in order. Perfect to add to a social studies notebook or create an interactive diagram on a sheet of construction paper. A digital version is also included so students can also complete this on a device!
In this activity, students will learn about:
- The Primary Elections and Caucuses
- The National Conventions
- The Campaign
- The Election
- The Electoral College
- Inauguration Day
Students will order the events and then match up a description of each activity. Adding in the arrows that lead from one event to the next is not required, but it does help them remember the order. As they are connecting those flaps on their diagram with arrows, they are reinforcing with mental connections too!
There’s something that clicks and helps students remember the information when they are part of creating this interactive diagram. If you choose to complete this as a class you can model each step as you put together a coordinating bulletin board.
If students are going to work on the Road to the White House diagram independently, then having this bulletin board already set up is a great tool for them to reference as they work. Students can refer to the bulletin board as they complete their own Road to the White House diagram. This makes a great way to self-check their answers, making for a wonderful independent activity.
Understanding the Electoral College
When it comes to understanding the voting process for the Presidential election, it can be really confusing. This is true for almost anyone, but especially if your students have never been exposed to the Electoral College before. We generally think of votes as being majority rule, but we all know that majority rule doesn’t necessarily mean ‘winner’ when it comes to the President of the United States.
Students will use the provided information from a mock election between Independent Ike, Republican Randy and Democrat Danielle. They will take the very interesting election day results (where each candidate won the same number of states) and determine who the President will be using the Electoral College.
This activity is not only a great way for students to see the process in action, but it is also a great opener for some great discussion. Students will likely have questions about how the states could be tied but still have a definite winner.
This is also a great time to teach students about the five times in U.S. history that the candidate with the most votes was not the ‘winner.’ This happened in the elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016.
If you happen to be teaching this during an election year, you can use the map from this activity for another purpose too! On the day after the election, provide students with a copy of the map and determine the winner of the election based on how many Electoral votes they will receive. A great connection to current events too!
- the qualifications needed to be President,
- qualifications needed to vote,
- interesting facts about elections,
- and review facts they learned in the other activities.
Connecting Social Studies and Writing
Finish your study of the Presidential election with a fun writing activity. Students write about what they would do if they were the President of the United States. This guided writing activity is more than just a general “what would you do” writing prompt. Instead, students are prompted to think about different aspects of the job of the President. Don’t worry – it’s not all serious though. There are some fun Presidential questions too!
I think some of your students’ answers will surprise you. While we often think of them as just ‘kids’ we forget that they are watching and listening to things around them. It’s interesting to see what has stood out to them in current events and news.
Teaching the Presidential Election Unit
You can find all of these interactive and engaging activities for teaching the Presidential election in this unit. All of these activities come in the printable version (seen above) but also in a digital form. The digital activities are ready to use on Google apps and easy to assign with Google Classroom, a share link, or another online learning system. Having access to both the print and digital means you can also add in some technology skills at the same time.
Looking for more Engaging Ways to Teach Social Studies?
Check out these other blog posts for ideas on teaching social studies concepts in a fun and engaging way.
- Teaching Map Skills
- The Lewis and Clark Expedition
- All About Valley Forge
- The Road to the Revolutionary War
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