Election season means teaching children more about the electoral process. This can be a confusing concept for children, as they most likely haven’t experienced much in the way of elections at their young age. A great way for children to learn about the process is to hold a mock election with them, so they can understand how candidates campaign and how citizens vote.
Holding a mock election doesn’t need to be difficult, in fact it can be quite easy and fun. Take a look below at how to hold a mock election so you can teach kids more about this important process!
How to Hold a Mock Election with Children
1. Choose your candidates.
To avoid hurt feelings, choose make believe candidates. For example you can have two stuffed animals running against each other. Opt for this instead of choosing children to run against each other. Decide on two candidates and announce them to the children. They can even create campaign posters if they wish or campaign pins and banners. Get creative and have fun with it!
2. Decide what the background of each candidate will be.
You want to give the candidates their own platforms. For example one stuffed animal can be in favor of recycling, no more naps, and ice cream breaks every day.
The other stuffed animal can be in favor of 24 hour candy stores, planting trees on every corner, and no school on Mondays. Make sure you share the platforms of each with the children so they can make an informed voting decision.
3. Set up a polling station.
Your polling station can be a simple desk with the ballots on it and a ballot box. You can also use a curtain or piece of fabric to offer privacy. Explain the process of how you register to vote (you can have children register on a note card) and how the polling station is ran.
4. Let the voting begin.
Let the children use the polling station to choose their candidate. They will have fun filling out a ballot and turning it in. Remind them that they can be vocal about their choice or keep it private. Remind them that all ballots will be counted when done, and that everyone can vote only once per election.
5. Count the ballots.
Now all that is left is for the ballots to be counted. Count the ballots and note who the winner is. You can then make a formal announcement. Explain to children how sometimes there are recounts. Sometimes errors are made. Decide if a recount needs to happen or if any error occurred. If not, announce the winner of the election
Regroup when you are done so you can answer any questions children may have. Now is the perfect time to discuss the process further if they wish.
You can also look online for videos and pictures of polling places, official ballots, and examples of campaign posters. Once your lesson is complete, children should have a better understanding of the voting process. If you are still looking for additional hands-on ways to help your children learn about elections, be sure to download my free Presidential Election Board Game. You could also consider an election lapbook, or election online unit study.