They may be too young to vote, but students of all ages are likely to get lessons this fall on the coming elections. A number of organizations are making materials available on the subject that are designed to engage children early in the democratic process.
Lesley University, for example, has set up a Web site (www.lesley.edu/election04) with links to lesson plans for grades 1-12 and related resources. The lessons explain the voting process, the Electoral College, and the importance of democratic elections. The materials are aligned to national standards and organized around “essential questions.”
“You can use the election for the content teaching … math, art, English, as well as social studies,” said Jo-Anne Hart, a professor of education at the Cambridge Mass., institution, who designed the project. “We have low voter turnout in this country, but if we use lessons like these regularly and get [students] engaged,” she said, “we can make them see through their own experiences that [voting] can matter.”
“Growing Voters,” as the project is called, includes hands-on exercises to help students experience various aspects of the political process.
Younger pupils, for example, are encouraged to interview adults they know about their views on the Nov. 2 elections. Older students are asked to take part in debates about political parties and how citizens should choose a candidate.
Other resources for teaching about the elections are also available.
A Web site administered by the University of Missouri (www.lessonplanspage.com/Elections.htm) includes detailed lessons on the elections, as well as the nation’s founding documents and an exercise for students to conduct their own elections.
And PBS has organized a series of activities online (www.pbs.org/elections/kids/educators.html) to help students of all ages learn about the presidential election.