Electoral College words on the US flag

Lesson 10: The Election and the Electoral College (Grade 4-5)

Oct. 23, 2020 • Studies Weekly

Objective for the Lesson:

Students will have a practical experience with the electoral college and how it can affect election results.

Weekly Summary:

Students have campaigned for their candidates. This week, they will vote. Each student will represent a state and that state’s electoral votes. The votes will be tallied, and the students will see how the electoral votes for each state can affect the results of an election.

Student Expectations:

  • Understand how the electoral college can affect elections despite the popular vote.
  • Participate in a nationwide vote in a simulation of the current presidential election.


tally: to count or reckon

popular vote: the vote for a U.S. presidential candidate made by the qualified voters, as opposed to that made by the electoral college

Lesson Plan:

This lesson is intended to be presented the week before the presidential election. Remind students that in a week, people who are eligible will go to the polls and vote.

  1. Show the class the images of the candidates running for president. Remind them about what they have learned about the importance of knowing information about the candidates so you can vote for the best leader.
  2. Invite students to read the article “Election Day Excitement.”
  3. Invite students to review their Comparing the Candidates graphic organizer and decide who they are going to vote for.
  4. Invite students to go to the Studies Weekly Live Election Site.
  5. Invite students to vote for the 2020 Election Candidates.
  6. Create a class ballot box. Invite students to also fill out a ballot and write down who they voted for. Collect the results for your class, but do not announce the winner.
  7. As the day/week progresses, have students access the Every Kid Votes! Mock Election to compare their school’s results with the results across their city/town, their state, and the nation.
  8. Give a blank United States map to each student.
  9. Assign a color to each candidate. As a class, tally the votes based on the results of the mock election. Have students color in the map based on what candidates are winning in each state.
  10. When the count is complete, invite students to compare your class results with the rest of the community and country.
  11. Have a class discussion. Have students consider the reasons why different places might have different results (consider: geographic location, urban vs. rural, ethnic/religious makeup of a region, industrial development; location near a university).
  12. Remind students that this was a mock election and that they will get to watch as the actual election takes place over the next few days.
  13. Remind students about how we talk about candidates and people who might have a different perspective than our own. This is a great time to encourage civility and discourse.

Weekly Assessment:

Invite students to write a 2-3 paragraph essay paper that illustrates what they have learned about the process of electing a president. This could include (but is not limited to) the history of voting rights, how the electoral college works, the qualifications of the candidates, and/or the issues involved in the campaigns.

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