Two 45 to 60 Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
- describe the importance of "the people" in American government.
- participate in a simulated voting experience.
- compare/contrast some aspects of life under voting and non-voting governments.
Display the facsimile of the U.S. Constitution in the classroom for a day or two prior to the lesson. Answer student questions that may occur. Then, play the video entitled, "The Preamble." Ask the students if the words are familiar. Guide them to recognize that these words are the beginning of the Constitution. Circulate copies of the words (one per student) and provide an opportunity for the students to sing along.
- After the students have become quite familiar with the Preamble song, direct their attention to the first three words on their copies: "We, the People..." Engage students in a discussion to determine the meaning of this phrase.
(In our country, we have the right to vote to make our own laws and choose our own leaders.)
- In small cooperative groups of four to six, allow the students two or three minutes to explain (to each other) the meaning of, "We, the People."
- To the entire group, pose the question, "What would life be like it we did not have these rights?" Also challenge the groups to see if they can think of other places in the world where some citizens do not have the right to vote. (Allow three to five minutes for discussion in small groups.)
- Bring the entire group together and solicit answers. For some classes, it may be necessary for the teacher to prompt the students somewhat, in order to guide them toward recognizing places where some people do not have voting rights.
- Pose the question, "What if citizens in our country did not have the right to vote?" Have students write their answers on sticky notes and draw icons to represent their words. At the close of the lesson, ask students to place their sticky notes on the poster board entitled, "What If We Were Not Allowed To Vote?" Leave this in a visible place until the next day.
- Briefly read the students' answers (on the sticky notes) aloud to the class. Read, show pictures, or show brief film clips of situations in places where people are not allowed to vote. A good source of photographs to use can be found at www.civilrightsphotos.com.
- In small cooperative groups of four to six students, ask each group to create a brief commercial that shows the benefits of voting. Allow five to ten minutes for groups to prepare, then let each group perform their ad for the class.
- Introduce the voting simulation experience using A Voting Experience (see Attachment One).
- Closure: Following the election and purchase of the item, call the students into a community circle. (This can also be written.) Each student will be asked to finish the following sentences:
- One thing I learned from the activity was…
- One thing I liked about this activity was…
- One thing I wonder (about this) is…
Teacher Note: It is also very important during this discussion to make it clear to students that in public elections in the U.S., each person is entitled to one vote only (one person-one vote), as opposed to as many times as they wish. One way to correlate this with the penny vote is to decide in advance that each penny will represent a certain number of registered voters. For example, one penny could equal ten people, or one hundred people, or whatever you feel is best for your class.
For most classrooms, it is recommended that the assessment be an informal one, based upon teacher observation of participation. For some classes/curriculum requirements, it may be desirable to have a vocabulary test (election, poll, campaign, etc.) or a test of concepts. (Explain the purpose of the U.S. Constitution, Why does the Preamble begin with "We, the People," etc.)
If you choose to do the voting simulation, it is advisable to send an explanatory note to parents. Use Sample Family Letter (see Attachment Two).
An optional extension activity that could be done by a few students could be the making of "campaign posters" for the items that are being selected.
Lesson Developed By:Sally Engleman Cioe
Dear Family of , (Student's Name)
As part of our current Social Studies unit, our class is studying the concept of voting. In order to provide an authentic experience, we will be voting to select a new game or piece of play equipment for the classroom.
In a Primary Election, the students have already decided that the chosen item will be one of two (three) items. The items we will be voting on are:
In order to determine which of these items will be purchased, the students will be doing a "penny vote." This means that the students may bring in (only) pennies and place them in the jar of the item they want the class to have. Each penny will equal one vote. Students may bring in as many pennies as they wish.
If possible, could you allow your son or daughter to do some extra chores (at home) this week to earn some extra pennies? The experience is generally more meaningful if the students have "earned" the money themselves.
Thank you so much for your cooperation,
(Nombre del Maestro/a)
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.