Have Fun With the Elections — Start at Home With Pumpkins

With the upcoming 2012 Presidential elections, I figured the best thing to teach my kids about the basics of voting, leadership qualities, and the job of a President would be to start with something fun and relatable. Then they’d have more background knowledge to better understand the national Presidential elections.

Most importantly, I want my kids to know that they have an amazing right as a citizen of the United States — the right to vote and pick the leadership governing our country. Not only is it a right, I want them to know it’s a responsibility.

So, we set up elections for our pumpkins to learn the basics of an election process. Vocabulary words are in bold.

Family Presidential Elections

1. Pick 2-3 candidates to run for President of your family.
We used pumpkins. You could use your pets, dolls, or stuffed animals.

2. The candidates need a platform– something that they believe in strongly. Depending on their ages, you make up silly and simple platforms, or have your kids make them up. (Of course, feel free to be more realistic or complex.) Our pumpkins’ platforms are:

Lulu — she’s the cute one
Old Guy – he’s wise
Max – he was abducted by aliens so he knows how to protect our country from them

More realistic platform topics might include: education, foreign policy, taxes, and health care.

3.  Now, discuss the job of President for the family. Something like:

Enforce rules.
Develop family budget.
Appoint Official Helpers.
Declare war on dirt, toys, and other “infestations”.

4. Divide up into supporters for each candidate. Make campaign signs, buttons, and/ or commercials.

5. Vote using a homemade ballot boxPrintable voting ballots.

National Presidential Elections

1. Talk about the 2 major political parties, Republican and Democrat, and each party’s candidate.

Activity: Election Vocabulary Bingo 

2. Learn about each candidate’s platform. Discuss as related to your family’s values.

Activity: Watch Election 2012 Scholastic video.

Activity: Older kids watch “Teen Guide to the 2012 Election” - includes gay rights, & abortion.

Activity: Visit each candidates websites and read up on their platforms: Mitt Romney and President Barak Obama.

Activity: Talk about television commercials, analyzing the differences between the positive and negative ads.

3. Learn what the President’s job is.

Activity: Play the online game, 7 Hats.

4. Vote for President of the United States. Printable 2012 Ballots.

Activity: Older kids watch the Khan Academy video on the Electoral College.

. . .

I hope this helps you as it did for my kids — at least get the gist of the system in this country and electing a good leader.

What are your doing already in your family to learn about the elections?

  • School Sparks Renee

    Lots of great ideas. Thanks so much for sharing these. Renee

  • JDaniel4′s Mom

    I really love this idea!

  • Jennifer Fischer

    That pumpkin idea is awesome!! I love it!

  • muddledmom

    Those are some really great ideas. Wish I’d seen them before the election! The pumpkin idea is really awesome and kids could relate.