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Electing a president:
Lessons for teaching
about the presidential primaries



Candidates are crisscrossing the country in a quest for the votes that will put their name on the presidential ballot in November. Capitalize on this "teachable moment" with five lessons that teach about the process and engage students in learning about it.

As the grueling primary process begins, Election Day seems a long way away. But, before we know it, voters will be lining up at the polls to cast their ballots in the next presidential election.


Election resources

Make classroom connections to this year's elections

What is a president?

Election WebQuest

Design a presidential candidate

Election Day: Classroom activities

Understanding political parties

Election Day: Ten more classroom activities

Elections and our government: In words a third grader can understand

U.S. presidents on the Internet

Use editorial cartoons to teach about elections past and present

America's freedom documents

Why teach current events?

Although Election Day will get most of the attention, the primaries leading up to Election Day also offer many opportunities for teaching about the American political process and citizens' roles and responsibilities. For example, are your students aware that primaries are a relatively new political development? A century ago, ordinary citizens had little say in the process of choosing each party's presidential candidate; choosing the candidate was more of a backroom process, carried out by party leaders and political insiders.

To help you teach about the development of our current election system, try the following special resources:

How does the primary process work?
How stuff works: Caucuses
Student scavenger hunt on 2012 Iowa Caucus

Lessons for teaching about presidential primaries

This week, Education World provides lessons to help you teach about the presidential election process. The lessons include a special emphasis on the presidential primaries. Click each of the five lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource. (Appropriate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

Primary and caucus calendar
Create a calendar of upcoming primaries and caucuses. (Grades 3-12)

Getting to know the candidates: Analyzing campaign ads
Learn about candidates' positions by analyzing their campaign ads. (Grades 3-12)

Campaign ad critique
Students learn a lesson in media literacy. (Grades 6-12)

How does the primary process work?
Learn how the primary and caucus process works. Work sheet included. (Grades 3-12)

Presidential eligibility
Could Britney Spears be elected president? Roger Clemens? Learn who can and who can't run for president. (Grades 3-12)

The presidential campaign game
Experience the political process and learn what it takes to manage a political campaign. (Grades 9-12)


Updated 2/13/2016