Election Activities for Middle School Students

Election Activities for Middle School Students thumbnail
Elections are a perfect topic for group learning.

Most middle-school students can easily understand how simple elections work---each person gets a vote, and the candidate with the most votes wins. They see this in action in school and class elections. But primaries, the electoral college and other details of American elections may confuse them. By working in teams and taking on the roles of candidates, campaign organizers and lobbyists, they can understand these elements of American elections.

  1. Electoral College: Debate

    • The electoral college is an important feature of American elections.
      The electoral college is an important feature of American elections.

      After teaching the students about the electoral college, with special emphasis on the presidential 2000 election, have the students break into teams and list the pros and cons of the electoral system. Use this as an opportunity to teach them formal debating skills and to stage a debate in class, which can be followed by individual essays in which students explain whether they think the electoral college is a good idea for the 21st century.

    Primaries and Campaigning: Strategy

    • How can candidates best use their time, based on the electoral system and past voting patterns?
      How can candidates best use their time, based on the electoral system and past voting patterns?

      In the process of teaching students about America's two-party system, explain what primaries are and the concept of "swing states." Then divide the class into teams representing Democratic and Republican candidates and have each team develop a travel itinerary for where their candidate will speak in the months before the parties' respective primaries. After the students have presented their plans, declare party winners and have the students develop new travel itineraries (this time with all the Republicans working together, and all the Democrats working together) for their respective candidates.

    Platforms: Negotiation

    • Compromise lies at the heart of American politics, for better and for worse.
      Compromise lies at the heart of American politics, for better and for worse.

      As objectively as possible, explain to the students the different philosophies of the Democratic and Republican parties and the meaning of political endorsements. Then, divide the class into small teams, some of which represent political candidates and some of which represent special interest groups with competing interests. Specify how many voters are represented by each special interest group, what they want and how likely it is that each of the special interests groups will vote for a candidate in a specific party. Also specify what each "candidate" team believes at the outset to be best for America. Rotate the teams in such a way that political candidate teams meet with the different groups in preparation for creating a platform. The goal of the special interest teams is to glean as many promises as possible from the candidate they feel most likely to win. The goal of the candidates is to cull as many endorsements as possible without compromising on core beliefs.

Related Searches

References

  • Photo Credit Team image by Ewe Degiampietro from Fotolia.com directional vote sign image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com america puzzle image by Vladislav Gajic from Fotolia.com Handschlag image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com

You May Also Like

Related Ads

Featured
View Mobile Site