July 2024 - History Gal

How to Teach the Election Process to Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers

Teaching about presidential elections can definitely feel overwhelming. With so many components and steps, it's easy for students to feel lost or uninterested. I totally get it because I know sometimes the topic can seem pretty dry. Since the election process is crucial to our rights as citizens, I work to make learning about the process as engaging and approachable as possible. Today, I'm sharing some of the resources I use with my students to bring the election process to life!

Use these hands on and interactive activities to teach the election process to your middle and high school students this year.

Teaching the Election Process Benefits Our Students

Understanding the election process is super important for our students because it empowers them as future citizens. When they grasp how elections work, they're more likely to participate actively in their communities and make informed decisions. They'll have confidence when they become voters because they'll know how their vote contributes to the final outcome. 

In our students' minds, learning about elections is all about memorizing dates and facts. From our end, we are helping them understand their role in our democracy. By being aware of the election process, we are helping them appreciate the value of their vote and the impact it can have on their lives and society. 

Teaching the election process empowers your students to become informed future citizens.
Teaching our students about the election process also strengthens their critical thinking skills and encourages them to explore different perspectives. They will learn about the importance of looking at everything all the candidates stand for and could do. Then, they think about what matters most to them. Based on all that information, make informed choices. 

While it might seem like a complex and dry topic at first, teaching the election process is really about equipping our students. When we take time to explain the process, we are helping them grow the skills they need to be empowered, engaged, and informed citizens. Who knows? Maybe we're even inspiring some future leaders along the way!

Resources to Teach the Election Process

Let's look at the resources I use to make learning the election process engaging and accessible for my students. With the right tools, even the most complex aspects of elections can become interactive and enjoyable learning experiences. 

Will You Be Elected President: An Election Simulation Game

One of my go-to resources is my Will You Be Elected President simulation game which takes my students through the election process with them in the role of a candidate to become president! This is a digital game that I have my students work through individually so that they are the ones making the choices and they see how those choices play out. It's very interactive and brings excitement to my students' learning!

Help your students learn about the presidential election process with this fun digital game.
I assign the game digitally so that each of my students receives their own copy. Once they have it open on their devices, they click on Slideshow, and the fun begins! Your students follow the on-screen directions and choose their path. Their decisions will take them on different journeys, so they can play this game several times to see different outcomes. 

While journeying through the game, your students encounter scenarios where they must choose a response. Some choices result in "Good News," while others lead to "Bad News." The answers are not obviously right or wrong, so this helps to keep them thinking critically and not randomly clicking. If they get a "Bad News," they can recover by answering another question. The game does a great job of helping them learn more bout the election process and the Executive Branch while reinforcing prior knowledge and introducing new content. 

After the game, I have a class discussion about what they learned. We chat about what surprised them and review any questions they may have. Then, I pass out the exit tickets for them to complete. This is a great way to reinforce the material and hear more individually how students feel and understand. 

Propaganda and the Election Process

Teaching our students to analyze propaganda during election years is important for developing their critical thinking skills. One resource I use is my Propaganda in Politics resource. It breaks down the different types of propaganda that are used during campaigns and election seasons. 

I start by passing out the handout explaining the different types of propaganda to introduce the overall topic. It provides clear definitions and examples to set a solid foundation for my students. I usually begin by discussing these with my class to ensure that they all have a basic understanding. 

Use these worksheets to teach how propaganda is used during the election process in the United States.
Then, we start applying the definitions and examples by analyzing regular commercials. Analyzing everyday commercials is a fantastic way to ease our students into the concept of propaganda because they can relate it to something familiar. Once we are comfortable with that format, we move on to political ads. They look for the intended audience of the ad, where the political ad was located, and the different types of propaganda it used. 

The next activity we do focuses on political speeches. During the election process, speeches are frequently given by candidates. This activity has students listen to a political speech and answer questions about who gave it, the location, the purpose of the speech, and the types of propaganda that were used. A similar activity focuses on the debates between candidates, where they keep track of the different types of propaganda that both candidates used during the debate. 

Once we work through these activities, I like to wrap up with a class discussion to share and reflect on their experiences. Many are surprised by what they learned and how passionate speeches and debates can become. I love the moments when classmates point out something that others missed, and then they discuss it!

Political System and Election Process PowerPoint and Guided Notes

To understand the different parts of the election process, we go through a Political System and Election Process slideshow and guided notes that start with the basics and go until the end of the process. We begin with the political parties and chat about how they started, compare Republicans and Democrats, and examine third parties. 

This interactive election process slideshow keeps your students engaged with images and animations everyone will love.
When it comes to voting, the notes guide us through the expansion of suffrage, how to register to vote, and the differences between primary and general elections. We also talk about how the voting landscape is changing and will continue to change. The Electoral College, which is tricky, is explained in a way that's super easy to grasp. 

We also explore what shapes public opinion and dive into the world of propaganda, which is a good way to introduce the topic. The notes also cover interest groups and their influence on government and public opinion. I did this to make it clear how these groups operate and impact policymaking. 

I also included a section encouraging our students to take an active role in the government. We look at practice steps for getting involved in political campaigns, contacting public officials, and participating in community activities. We can empower them to see themselves as active participants in and out of the classroom for change. 

Doodle Notes for the Election Process

Growing up, note-taking wasn't my favorite thing. As a teacher, I know it's not a favorite of many of our students. Doodle pages are a fun take on traditional note-taking. Our students write down the key points while adding doodles and colors to help them retain the information!

Electoral College

To teach the Electoral College, I use my Electoral College doodle notes. These notes make learning interactive and fun while helping my students easily understand an intricate concept. 

Electoral college doodle notes make learning creative as your students learn the ins and outs of the election process.
I make sure each of my students receives a copy, whether it be fill-in-the-blank or completely blank. As we go through the materials, we fill out our notes. We talk about how the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as a safeguard. We also discuss how electors are chosen to formally elect the President and Vice President. 

Once we finish our notes, I give them time to color and doodle on their notes. This helps to reinforce the material in a memorable way.  By doing this, we can go back through and review key points like how states allocate their electors and the importance of the popular vote versus the electoral votes. 

How to Become a President 

Over the years, quite a few students have always been surprised by how much goes into the road a presidential candidate has to go through to hopefully become president. I use my How to Become President doodle notes to clearly map out this road and explain each mile marker. 

Use these doodle notes to help your students learn what it takes to become president as they work through the election process unit.
I pass out the notes to my students, making sure to differentiate between blank and fill-in-the-blank versions. As we go through the interactive slideshow, we fill out our notes along the way! We cover how candidates announce their intention to run for President and the symbols of the two parties. I explain how candidates are narrowed down in primary elections. The notes go into how National Conventions are where delegates from each state vote based on the primary election results and the formal nomination of Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. 

As we move towards the general election, the doodle notes and slideshow help illustrate how candidates campaign across the country, engage in debates, and use various media to reach voters. The notes also guide a discussion on the importance of voting by secret ballot and how the Electoral College ultimately decides the winner. I included videos in the slideshow to help communicate and showcase information in a different format as well. 

Political Parties

The next set of doodle notes I use in my classroom covers all my students need to know about Political Parties. Once my students are situated with their copy of the doodle notes, we dive into learning the basics of political parties. 

Your students will love learning about political parties with these doodle notes you can include in your election process unit.
We look at what influences someone to join a particular party, the structure and organization of the parties, and the difference between Republicans, Democrats, and third parties. The notes do a great job helping to develop their understanding of how political parties function and their role in the election process. 

From there, we explore how the parties are organized into committees, the role of the National Committee, and how the parties get their funding. The notes introduce students to the Political Action Committees and Super PACS and explain their importance to political financing. I build on these notes with the videos in the slideshow that provide real-world examples and additional explanations! 

Electoral College Map Activities

Next on my list of resources for the election process is the Electoral College Map Activities. We first look at the map of the 2012 presidential election. I have my students complete a map illustrating the Electoral College breakdown between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. This visual activity helps them understand how the electoral votes are distributed. We then discuss the trends we see on the map. 

Then we move to the 2016 election, where students will complete the same activity, but this time, it will be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This time, we might talk about how the New England states did not vote as a solid block for Clinton and how the South was solidly Trump. We also talk about split electoral votes in states like Maine and Nebraska and the role of faithless electors in the election. 

Use a visual electoral college map like this to show how votes are distributed as your students learn about the election process.
For a more recent perspective, we examine the 2020 election. We complete another Electoral College map to show the breakdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. We look at interesting trends, such as Binden winning Georgia and Virginia while Trump once again secured the majority of southern states. 

During an election year, we take this learning a step further. We would use what we learned about the trends of previous elections to make a prediction about a future election. I like to encourage my students to predict the Electoral College outcome based on the previous elections. They answer questions and create their own scenarios for the election. This helps them to see the complexities and possibilities within the electoral process. 

I also love to use this map on election day.  Students go home with the map and mark the states based on the election results.  Then in class, we predict the winner based on the electoral votes.

The Political System and Elections Review Game

When learning about political systems and the election process, there is a lot of information to cover. So I liked to find fun ways to review it all. The Political System and Elections review game is perfect before a big test! Throughout the game, students review important information about the election process. The competitive element keeps them engaged and motivated to participate! 

To start, I divide my students into groups. Depending on the setup, I either give each group a computer to play the game or project the game onto a screen. If I do it the second way, I divide the class into four teams. 

Ge everyone involved with this fun review game focusing on the political system and election process.
When we play the game, teams take turns choosing a question by clicking on a number on the board. As the teacher, I act as the judge to determine if their answers are correct. If a team answers correctly, they get to roll the dice by tapping on it to start and stop the roll. Then, they move their game piece to the appropriate number of spaces by tapping on it. 

Some numbers on the board might not reveal questions but instead, offer free rolls or cause the team to lose a turn, adding an element of surprise and strategy to the game. We continue playing until all questions are answered or someone reaches the finish square. If all questions are answered before reaching the finish, the time furthest along wins!

Becoming President and Electoral College Review Game

My students love this Becoming President and Electoral College review game! It's another great review game for the election process. Students are engaged, working as a team, and enjoying their learning! 

I divide the students into groups but different groupings than the previous game. When we begin to play, I have teams take turns choosing a question from the tumbling tower in the slideshow by clicking on a numbered block. I act as the judge to determine if their answers deserve full, partial, or no credit. Incorrect answers receive no points unless I decide partial credit is due, while correct answers earn full points. 

Your whole class will love this becoming president and electoral college review game you can use at the end of your election process unit.
To keep track of the scores, we simply tap the numbers under the team names. If we accidentally tap too many times, we just keep tapping until the correct number comes back around. There's an exciting twist with a mystery block that can cause the tower to tumble, which makes the team lose all their points. Their reactions are pretty entertaining. We continue playing until all questions are answered. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins!

Make Teaching the Election Process Easy and Fun

Teaching the election process doesn't have to be daunting or boring. With the right resources, you can make learning about elections engaging, interactive, and fun for our students and ourselves! From simulation and doodle notes to review games and map activities, there are plenty of ways to bring this important topic to life. By doing so, we're helping our students understand the mechanics of elections and empowering them to be informed and active participants in our democracy. I hope these resources inspire you as much as they have inspired me and that they bring a new level of excitement to your classroom. Here's to shaping the informed voters and leaders of tomorrow!

Save for Later

Remember to save this post to your favorite social studies Pinterest board to start planning out your election process lessons! 

Looking for new and exciting ways to teach the election process to your middle and high school students this year? These engaging and creative resources include everything you need to teach your students about what it takes to become president, how votes are distributed, why we have a two party system and more. Use these resources during an election year or any year you want to focus on the election process in your classroom. #thehistorygal #electionprocess #electionprocessactivitiesformiddleschool #electionprocessactivitiesforhighschool #electionyearactivities

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Presidential Election Game: Do You Have What It Takes to Be President?

Becoming the President of the United States is not quite as easy as just being on the ballot in November. There are multiple stages and steps to the process. Helping our students understand this process also gives them some insight into the democratic process and politics in general. But how exactly do teach all the ins and outs of becoming the President? I have just the thing! I'm so excited to share with you a new digital resource that I have made to help you and your students. Let's explore what the Presidential Election Simulation Game has to offer! Whether you are teaching a government unit or diving into the election process during an election year, this game is going to put your students right in the middle of the action.

Use this presidential election game to teach your students all about the process involved in running for and becoming a president of the United States.

Benefits of Gamifying Learning

When it comes to gamifying learning, there are several benefits, especially for our middle and high schoolers. Students are full of curiosity but often need a little extra motivation to stay engaged. That's where gamifying learning comes in, and trust me, it can make a world of difference! 

When you "gamify" learning especially with something as complex as a presidential election, your students will have more buy in and more fun while learning key concepts you want them to know.
Gamification simply makes learning fun. When our students are having fun, they're more likely to stay focused and retain information. Games naturally encourage participation, which means students are more engaged and active in their learning process. This is particularly beneficial for secondary students who are at an age where keeping attention is challenging. 

Games also provide immediate feedback. In a traditional classroom activity, students might have to wait days to find out how they did on an assignment. With a game, they get instant feedback on their choices and actions, which helps them learn and adjust. This immediate reinforcement is essential for developing a deeper understanding of the material. 

It also encourages problem-solving and critical thinking. Games often present scenarios that require them to think strategically and make decisions based on the information they have. This kind of active learning helps develop important skills that our students can take beyond the classroom. 

Gamifying the Presidential Election Process 

Keep your teaching about the presidential election fun with this interactive game..
What if you could reap all the benefits of gamified learning while teaching your students the ins and outs of the presidential election process? Well, now you can! With this Presidential Election Simulation Game, your students have the chance to explore the election process while making decisions just like real candidates. They learn about the campaigning, debates, and the Electoral College, all while having fun! The game adapts to their choices and offers different outcomes to keep them exploring different experiences. 

As they play, they'll see the inner workings of the presidential election. While doing so, they can build on their decision-making and critical thinking skills. Since it's so interactive, it's going to also grab their attention and create buy-in to focus on the task. 

What is the Presidential Election Process?

Before diving into the game, let's take a look at exactly what the presidential election process involves! Many of my students are surprised when they learn that it's more than just showing up to vote on Election Day. The journey to becoming President starts long before that. 

First, potential candidates announce their intention to run. This is usually accompanied by lots of debates. They are trying to win over voters during the primaries and caucuses. These are essentially mini-elections held in each state to determine which candidates will represent their political parties. 

The presidential election process can be complicated, but when you break it down into easy to understand steps for your students they will be able to grasp the concept more easily.
Once the primaries and caucuses wrap up, each party holds a national convention. This is where the official nominees for President and Vice President are selected. It's also a time for the parties to rally their supporters and lay out what they stand for. 

After the conventions, the real race begins! The nominees campaign across the country, sharing their visions and plans. They are hoping to win the support of as many voters as possible. It's a whirlwind of rallies, advertisements, and debates. 

Then comes Election Day, which is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is when citizens cast their votes. The winner isn't decided by the popular vote alone. The Electoral College comes into play. Each state has a certain number of electors based on its representatives in Congress. In most states, the candidate who wins the popular vote gets all the state's electoral votes. 

To win the presidency, a candidate needs a majority of the 538 electoral votes available, which means at least 270. If no one reaches his number, the House of Representatives decides the outcomes. 

And that, in a nutshell, is how we elect the President! It's a fascinating process with lots of different moving parts. I love helping my students understand it all through a simulation game. It puts them in the race and really brings the whole experience to life!  

Presidential Election Simulation Explained

Behind the Scenes of the Presidential Election Resource

Every four years, we elect a President. For our students who are not voting age, voting in a presidential election seems far in the future. Many don't see the need to know about the process when they don't even get to participate. This is a great learning opportunity for the lesson of being responsible and informed citizens!

Use this digital Presidential Election Game to turn learning something complicated and a little "dry" into a fun "you choose" activity students can do over and over again.On the flip side, let's be honest, it's not the most exciting concept, whether we are the ones teaching it or the ones trying to learn it. This game helps make it more fun as it puts students in the front seat of the election process. They get to have the chance to run for President and make decisions that will determine whether they win or lose the election. 

Along this digital journey, they'll learn step-by-step about the election process. The best part? It's okay if they don't have any prior knowledge to play the game. The slides guide them through the entire process! It's also a great resource for reinforcing content if your students are already feeling like experts on the process! Once they get to the end, they'll find out if they won the election or came up short. To wrap it all up, each of them will fill out an exit ticket to reflect on what they've learned! 

How the Presidential Election Game Works


Using Google Slides or PowerPoint, you can play the Presidential Election Game with your students digitally as a whole class, in small groups, or individually.
The beauty of this game is that it's entirely self-contained, so you and your students don't have to worry about juggling multiple resources or flipping between multiple tabs. Your students will have the chance to take part in decision-based learning as they navigate through the slides as they travel through the presidential election process. 

The game comes in PowerPoint and Google Slides formats with over 300 slides. There are multiple paths, so your students can play on repeat. 

Each time they play, they'll experience something different. As they interact with each slide, they'll absorb information from the questions they encounter that reinforce what they know or explain new concepts. It's a fun and interactive way to make the presidential election process approachable! 

Time to Play the Presidential Election Game!

The Will You Be Elected President: Presidential Election Simulation Game is a game-changer for teaching the election process. By turning this complex topic into a fun and interactive experience, we make learning accessible and engaging for our students. This game helps them understand the ins and outs of elections while boosting their decision-making skills. I'm so excited to bring this resource to you and your students. So, I ask, do you have what it takes to be President? 

Grab this incredible Presidential Election Game resource to use in your classroom this fall to help teach all about the process of electing a U.S. President.

Save for Later

Remember to save this post to your favorite Pinterest board for when you are planning your lessons for the presidential election process!

Looking for a fun and engaging way to teach your students about the presidential election process? Check out my latest blog post that will put your students right in the middle of all the action. Find out how to use this Presidential Election Simulation Game to teach your students about the ins and outs of the presidential election process.  This social studies lesson is one that won't soon be forgotten. Click to read this post and bring this exciting resource into your classroom!




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