Monday, May 25, 2015

Election Time!

published on: 2/28/2003

Contributing Teacher(s): Tanya Foster

Subject Area: Social Studies/Government/Civics

Grade Range: Middle Grades (6-8)

Materials Needed: Markers, poster board, Internet and media center access

Objective: Students will study and learn about the presidential election process. They will learn about electoral and popular votes, campaign regulations and processes, and nomination and choosing of candidates. Students will use primary and secondary sources and the Internet to find information about President Truman, his campaign and the election. Students will look at past presidential campaigns and recent campaigns to study campaign ideas and practices. Students will work cooperatively in groups, utilizing their individual strengths to complete a project. As part of the group project, students will practice word processing skills, be creative and artistic, and speak in front of their classmates.

Process Standards:

  • Goal 2.1 plan and make written, oral and visual presentations for a variety of purposes and audiences
  • Goal 4.2 understand and apply the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in Missouri and the United States

Content Standards:

  • Social Studies 1. Principles expressed in the documents shaping constitutional democracy in the United States
  • Social Studies 3. Principles and processes of governance systems

    Time Allowance: Two to three weeks

    Description: Students will learn about the campaigning process through books and the Internet and will create a campaign and mock election of their own-- presidents

    Classroom Component: Unit Introduction

    United States citizens often take for granted one of their most precious privileges, the right to vote. Students should become more aware of how important the election process is. They should also realize everything that goes into the choosing of candidates and the development of their campaigns. Harry S. Truman offers a prime example for students to study. His whistlestop campaign was an ingenious way to appeal to the American people. A study of his election to office offers an opportunity for students to understand the importance of the electoral vote versus the popular vote. This unit gives students an opportunity to study the presidential election process, the specifics of President Truman’s campaign and election, and develop their own campaign ideas as they carry out a mock classroom election.

    Preparation for Learning Adventure

  • Teach and have students study the presidential election process, campaigning strategies and rules.
  • Allow students to search the web and spend some time studying President Truman and his campaign and election.
  • Encourage students to look at recent and past campaign slogans, banners, strategies, pins, etc., to get some ideas for their mock campaign.
  • Scope of Student Work

    The following schedule is a suggested time frame for the activities involved in this unit. More time may be needed for certain segments of the unit such as researching and gathering information, working to complete the campaign materials and election speeches, and presenting classroom speeches.

    Day 1 & 2 – Introduce the basics of presidential elections. Explain the important details of the nomination process, primaries, caucuses, and campaigns. Discuss the difference between popular and electoral votes.

    Day 3 – Check for comprehension of the previous lessons with an assignment, group discussion or quiz.

    Day 4 – Study about Truman, his presidential campaign, and his election. Helpful books and web sites are listed later in this unit.

    Day 5 – Discuss what was learned about Truman’s campaign. Browse on-line or search the library to read about other famous presidential campaigns. Encourage students to seek for details about recent campaigns. Students should focus on specific slogans and tactics used by candidates.

    Day 6 – Pass out and discuss requirements for the group project. Allow students to fill out their idea sheet for their campaign. Have students self-evaluate and group evaluate to decide which group member would be best for each job.

    Day 7-10 – Students work on completing their projects. They may wish to use the Internet for ideas or look at old campaign memorabilia. Work out a schedule for the 9th and 10th day to allow each group time to create their brochure on the computer. Help the candidates practice their campaign speeches on the 10th day.

    Day 11 – Students will present their campaign speeches and the class will have a mock election.


    Resources and Technology Used

    The following web sites could be visited to help the students become more acquainted with the presidential campaigns of the past.

      A great site where students can listen to full text speeches given by famous speakers, including presidents.

    The following books would be helpful to the students while researching the past presidential campaigns and learning about the campaign processes of American presidential elections.

    • Johnson, Mary Oates. The President America’s Leader, Raintree Steck-Vaughn Co., 1993.
    • Kane, Joseph Nathan. Facts About the Presidents, H.W. Wilson Co., 1993.
    • Meltzer, Milton. American Politics How it Really Works, Morrow Junior Books, 1989.
    • Shuker-Haines, Frances. Rights and Responsibilities Using Your Freedom, Raintree Steck-Vaughn Co., 1993.
    • Weber, Michael. The Complete History of Our Presidents, Rourke Corporation, 1997.

    Assessment and Reflection

    The following pages include a worksheet to guide students while researching past presidential elections. It prompts them to analyze ideas used in the past while deciding on ideas they will use in their own mock election. A worksheet to help them map out important parts of their own group’s campaign is also included. Finally, there is a handout which states the requirements for the group project along with a simple scoring guide to assess the final project.

    Student Worksheet Presidential Campaigns of the Past

    Spend some time looking at the Internet sites about past presidential campaigns and read through some of the books that tell about the campaigns for president over the last 200 years. Then try to fill in this worksheet.

  • Which of the slogans used by past presidential candidates do you like the best? Why? Write the slogan, the candidate’s name, the year they used it, and why you liked it.




  • Which candidate had the most interesting campaign button or bumper sticker? List the candidate’s name and year he ran for president. What did the button or sticker look like? Draw a replica of it or print it out and attach it to this sheet.



  • What colors seem to be the most common choice for the candidates to use in their campaign? Why do you think that is? Which colors do you like best?


  • Which candidate had the worst campaign strategies as far as you are concerned? Why do you feel that is?



  • Read about Harry S. Truman and discuss in your answer his innovative campaign technique that worked. Why do you think it was so successful? What could you try to win votes?
  • Student Worksheet Group Project Idea Generator

    Consider all you found out about the presidential campaigns of the past. Then look at your project requirements. Use the worksheet below to help your group get your ideas organized and prepared.

  • Who will you choose as your candidate for president? What qualities does that person possess that makes him/her a good choice?


  • Who will be the vice-presidential candidate? What qualities does that person possess to make him/her a good choice?

  • Who will be the campaign manager? Why would you choose that person?

  • Who will be the speech writer and press secretary? Why should that person be chosen for that job?

  • What are some slogan ideas for your campaign?

  • What are your colors, banners, buttons, etc., going to look like?

  • What are some important issues your group will focus on during the campaign?

  • How do you plan to reach your voters?

  • What are some great ideas that will set your candida

    For additional information contact :
    Tanya Foster
    Platte City Middle
    Platte Co. R-III
    (816) 858-2036

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