Lesson 8: Know Your Candidates (Grades 4-5)
Objective for the Lesson:
In this lesson, students will discuss the importance of learning about candidates so they can be educated voters and know as much as possible about the person they are voting for.
Students will understand that it is important for voters to know what the different candidates in an election stand for, what their experience levels are, and what they are committing to do if elected. This helps voters make informed decisions and elect the most qualified candidates to lead them.
- Identify candidates currently running for local, state, and/or national office.
- Discuss the importance of being an informed voter and learning all you can about the people who want to be your leaders.
- Become familiar with the ways in which a voter can become informed about a candidate.
- Review what a candidate is.
- Can you name any of the current candidates running for office locally, in our state, or nationally?
- How did you hear about the candidate(s)?
- What would you want to know about a person who might be making laws for us?
- Make a list of the characteristics.
- Have a class discussion.
- What do you need to know about a candidate before you vote? (Possible answers include: Find out who all the candidates are. Learn about them, what they believe, and what they want to do to help the community, state, or nation. Identify the candidate whose ideas best agree with your own.)
- Invite students to read the article “Being an Informed Voter.”
- How can voters find out about the candidates?
- Review the article, and underline some of the ways voters can become informed. Have students add to the list. (Possible answers may include: Watch the candidates’ ads. Read flyers and articles about the candidates. Watch the televised debates. Do research on the internet. Attend city meetings where candidates are speaking.)
- Explain to students what political parties are and what the main parties are today. Show them the donkey and elephant symbols that represent each party. Also, explain to them that most candidates align themselves with one party and represent the ideas that the party leaders officially decide on. Learning about what a candidate’s party believes is one way to know what the candidate stands for.
- Help students understand that in addition to the Republican and Democratic parties, there are other parties as well. Help students see who is running in the other parties.
- Have students work in pairs to research one of the candidates running for president or vice president. Assign them each to write a one-page biography of what they learn. They need to find out the following:
- Early life: Where were they born? What were the circumstances they grew up in?
- What did they do as an adult before running for office?
- What have they accomplished that shows they are a great leader?
- What commitments are they making as part of their campaign?
- Ask students to keep their papers for the next lesson.
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