Exploring the Voting Process with Kids – A Family Activity
It’s never too early to begin exploring the process of how voting works, why it is important, and, for older kids, how it fits in with our democracy. A great way to illustrate the voting process is to hold a mock election where the entire family makes a decision, such as what to eat for dinner, what board game to play, what book to read together, or what activity to do this weekend.
Mock elections for kids 4 and under
Younger kids might have a hard time fully grasping the idea of an election, so keep it simple by focusing on the idea that voting is a way for people to make decisions and have their voices heard. Explain that the vote winner is decided by whichever option the most family members wanted.
Toddlers and preschoolers are still learning how to be considerate of others’ wants, so if their choice loses it might be difficult for them to understand. This is a great opportunity to explore the idea that it’s okay to disagree with others, and that while they feel disappointed, it’s still important to make their voice heard.
Mock elections for kids 5 and older
When doing this activity with older kids, try adding the idea of nomination to the mock election. Let kids decide what they want to nominate as a meal or activity to vote on. Encourage them to talk to the family and explain why they should vote for their nomination.
After voting is complete, let older kids help with counting the votes. Use math concepts like percentages and totals to help kids experience what the mock election results mean.
Bringing your mock election to life
Make your family’s mock election feel more authentic and exciting by creating special voting materials. Some ideas include:
- A ballot box – Have your child decorate a tissue box or shoebox and use it as the election’s official ballot box to keep things confidential.
- Paper ballots – Create your own ballot or print out a template and let kids write in their choices.
- Voting booth – Hang lightweight blankets from the ceiling or put up table dividers so everyone can cast their vote in secrecy.
- Campaign materials – Create poster board yard signs or homemade buttons in support of each option and let kids choose what they would like to support.
Exploring the concept and importance of voting with kids through a mock election can be a fun and simple way to create family fun together.
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