Vote for learning this summer and keep education alive to give kids an advantage when school starts! More than providing a leg up, summer learning activities prevent children from sliding backwards academically. You can develop a learning theme—like the upcoming presidential election—to help with planning and lend structure to activities.
Enjoy these Ten Election Education Activities to keep children connected to the “three R's Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic,” over the summer while setting them up to be the “smartest kid in class” come November.
- Vote for…dinner! Introduce younger students to the voting process by conducting your very own in-house election. “Nominate” two dinner choices and explain that you will hold an election to determine the winner. Crafty kids can make campaign posters, a ballot box, and paper ballots. Math skills get a boost by counting and sorting ballots. Be sure to take time to explain and write new vocabulary words like nominate, election, ballot, and more.
- Climb the branches of government. A great way to explore the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government is visually with the help of graphs that highlight roles and responsibilities. Work with students to research the branches and then make your own graph to showcase new knowledge. Use reference materials or other online resources to gather facts.
- Explore a free 2012 Election Activity Pack. Do you think you know how a president gets elected? Pearson is offering a comprehensive and interactive online resource that is chock-full of games and other information about the election. You’ll find a student-friendly blog, historical facts, profiles of the candidates, and much more. You can also test your kid's and your own knowledge with our US history and Election Day crossword puzzle.
- Don’t argue, debate! What decision is your family pondering? To get/not get a hamster? To paint a teen bedroom neon green or white? To go to the beach or camping? Why not open the decision up to a debate? A lighthearted “formal” debate offers students the opportunity to analyze their opinions, organize thoughts, and speak in front of a group. EducationWorld.com offers some great tips and ideas to get you started.
- Start (Electoral) College early. Older students will most certainly review the Electoral College, but a head start on this more complex system will give kids an advantage. How many votes are allotted to your state? How many votes are needed to win? Visit the National Archives and Records Administration’s page of the U.S. Electoral College to learn more. Students can even try predicting who will win the next presidential election with the Electoral College Calculator.
- Walk the footsteps of our nation’s leaders. Local historical sites, government buildings, and, if nearby, homes of past presidents make for an exciting day trip for students of all ages. Be sure to brush up on a few facts about the location before you go and take guided tours where offered. Historical documents and artifacts are often on view and provide a glimpse into the past that is sure to spark children’s imaginations. Visit the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmarks website to scout out your adventure.
- Learn about local officials. Support report-writing skills by researching local officials. Tech-savvy students may use the Internet and the local library is a wonderful resource. Learn the names of local officials, what they do, and maybe even request a meeting.
- Take a creative stand. What issues are near and dear to your children’s hearts? The environment, healthcare, energy? Or maybe things closer to home like bedtime, chores or eating vegetables. Ask questions like, “Why is this issue important to you?” and encourage kids to make campaign posters for their causes. Explain the importance of facts and figures and how relevant statistics help convey a compelling, smart argument.
- Get presidential with poetry. Inspire children to write about their hopes and dreams with poetry. Have children start with, “If I were president, I would…” and encourage them to fill in the rest with a paragraph or more (depending on the child’s age) about what they would strive for as commander-in-chief. Children can even share their poems with the president. Visit the White House website to learn how to mail letters to the president.
- And, as always, read with your children. Research from the United States Department of Education shows that reading to children is “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading.” Libraries offer many children’s books about government, the election process, presidents, and more for parents and children to enjoy together. Check out titles like Duck for President and others on the U.S. Senate’s kids bookshelf—a great resource for books about voting, how government works, the Constitution, and more.
Watch one of our virtual school counselors illustrate some of these ideas in this news clip on our YouTube channel.
Are you using a particular theme for your fun learning activities this summer? As always, share your own learning tips with us here!