My 10-year-old was complaining to me last week that she was too young to vote. I thought about it, and reminded her that, while she’ll be left out of this presidential election and the next one, she’ll be 18 for the 2020 contest. “It’s not too far away,” I told her. She looked at me like I was crazy.
Presidential elections come every four years, and children change dramatically between each one. My son (who is slightly obsessed with Buzz Lightyear and would only consent to a picture if he was allowed to wear the costume) was barely 3 months old when Obama won the election in 2008. For my older girls, this is the first time they’ve been really conscious of the whole election process. They’ve seen a lot of commercials for each candidate, they watched two of the debates, and they have formed opinions of their own. But four years ago, when I brought them with me to vote, they were just excited because they got a sticker.
No matter how old, kids can get excited about the election on Tuesday. Whether they accompany you to the polls and get pumped about that sticker or they’re rooting for their favorite candidate as the results are coming in, including them in the process is rewarding for everyone.
Here are five online resources to check out with your children.
1. BrainPop - These kid-friendly animated videos are fun to watch and easy to understand. They have a great series of videos on US Government that are relevant to the election, and a particularly good one about the election process itself. BrainPop Jr. has a nice overview about the US President for ages 5-9, which addresses the election a little bit, and also does a good job explaining the President’s job.
2. Schoolhouse Rock – This music video, “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College” does a nice job of explaining the Electoral College and how it works. There’s also another cute one, “Presidential Minute,” which sums up the election process very quickly.
3. Education.com - This site has really good, free worksheets for all ages, including this Electoral Vote Tracker, a 2-page PDF with a map of the US that kids can color red or blue as the states are called for one candidate or another. The second page has a list of how many electoral college votes each state gets, so older kids can also keep track of how close either candidate is to the 270 needed to win.
4. 270towin.com – Includes an amazing, interactive map of the USA and a great lesson on electoral history. You can see the election results from every year since 1789, and it shows you exactly how each election split between the states, who the candidates were, the popular vote (from 1824 and on), and the electoral vote. It’s fascinating to see how the country has changed, how the population has changed, and to see which presidents won by a landslide and which narrowly pulled out a victory.
And here’s one more that your kids may or may not be into, but Eli and I found really cool: NYTimes.com has an interactive Electoral Map, and you can drag and drop states from one candidate to another and see how the results of the election will change.