Enjoying the Elections With Kids!
This may sound like an impossible idea. Many parents don’t even enjoy election season themselves, let alone finding a way to make it interesting, relevant and fun for their kids. The truth is though, despite the bombardment of campaign ads, overly-opinionated Facebook posts and the signs propped up all over town, the Presidential Election process is an example of democracy at its very best and a reason why we are so fortunate to be Americans. Here are some ideas of how to involve your kids in the excitement:
1- I don’t know about you but I still remember heading out to the high school gymnasium and watching my parents vote in those tiny little booths. Of course, now we mostly all do it by mail. But let your kids watch you open ballot, show them your voters registration card, the voters pamphlet, and make it a big deal to go drop it off in the mail so your vote will be counted. It is important part of being an involved citizen and kids will really remember you making a huge deal out of it.
2- A great idea for Elementary school-aged kids is to purchase one of the apps that track polling numbers daily and shows a US map with the states colored Red or Blue or Undecided. With ‘2012 Map: The Presidential Election App’ you can view live maps that are updated daily with the newest polling data. My 8 year old nephew loves checking the map to see which states and numbers are changing. This is a great application of real-life mathematic concepts, an easy and visual way to learn about the Electoral College and a great way to learn the state names and locations.
3- Kids love Arthur! In his latest app, Arthur has won an essay contest, he’s invited to recite his essay, “How I Can Help Make America Great” in front of the commander-in-chief. On the Arthur Meets the President app ($2.99 for iPhone or iPad), kids can follow along as the book is read aloud, color, and work on jigsaw puzzles. As children hear the story, they’ll begin to consider what they can do to make America great.
4- Hold your own elections! A great way to settle a decision to be made is to let two of the kids campaign for their ideas and state their case. Then have all the family members take a private vote to make the final decision. Who knows maybe the trip to the pumpkin patch will win out over a day at the movies! Some in the group may feel disappointed but that’s democracy at work.
5- Point out the positives and how to respect the opinions and beliefs of others. It’s a great time to discuss how it’s okay to disagree with others and still remain friends. We may not all believe the same things but we can still get along. A great example of this is to have your children watch the very end of a debate; the candidates always end by thanking each other and shaking hands.
6- Write a letter to the President. This is a great activity! Not only do they feel super important sending their letter to the President but I have heard that in most cases, they will get a letter back and a picture. If age appropriate, encourage your kids to practice using formal letter writing style and to tell the President their ideas. The address to send your letter to is; President Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.
Don’t forget to VOTE!