- Kindergarten learned how to use a ballot and voted on their favorite color skittle.
- Pre-K voted on their favorite ice cream.
- Pre-School made their own Voter Registration Card crafts and voted on which book they would read at Story Time.
- The Juniors have been voting on different issues all week...today they voted on their favorite candy and yesterday they voted on their favorite movie.
What is voting?
You can explain to preschoolers that voting is a way for a group to make a decision. Family members can cast votes for a favorite meal, favorite book or favorite weekend activity.
Who can vote?
School-age children are ready to learn that when this country began, the Founding Fathers wrote a constitution describing how we would govern ourselves. It said people should vote but didn't say who could vote. That was left to each state to decide, which created problems. In the past, people were denied the right to vote because of social class, gender or ethnic origin. Now after centuries of protest, four amendments to the Constitution and several new laws, all U.S. citizens, 18 years or older, are allowed to vote.
Why can't kids vote (in the real election)?
Kids who get caught up in election excitement may be disappointed to learn that they don't get a vote. Explain to them that in order to vote in this country, you have to meet citizenship, residency and age requirements, meaning you have to be at least 18. But remind kids that even if they can't vote in the presidential election, they can still vote in class, with their family or with a group of friends.
Why should people vote?
Raise a future voter by teaching children about the importance of making their voices heard. Tell them that despite the struggle to extend the vote to all American citizens over 18, only 64 percent of U.S. citizens age 18 and over voted in the 2004 presidential election. Explain that because a surprising number of elections are determined by small margins, it's important for all eligible voters to participate at the local and national level.
Can I come to the party?
You may need to teach young children that that a political party isn't the same as a birthday party -- even though they'll see lots of balloons, confetti and dancing if they watch a convention on TV. Show kids that political parties are groups of people with similar interests who join together to support candidates. School-age children have probably heard of the Democrats and Republicans. Introduce them to other parties, too, like the Green Party, the Libertarians and the Progressives. Remind them that voters can just be independents and not join a party at all.
Getting children involved:
Invite young children to draw their own cartoon symbols for causes they believe in, whether they're helping animals, saving the earth or raising money for a children's charity.
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