As far as your kids are concerned the last few months of this Presidential Election are about watching a couple of guys wearing shiny ties on TV after dinner instead of their usual pre-bedtime cartoons, something about a coloring book full of mommies and confusion about somebody who they don’t know not telling the truth about something they’ve never heard about, but your kids are pretty certain that they should have a time-out for whatever it was.
Politics are confusing enough for adults; you can only imagine how your kids must be feeling right now! However, having a Presidential Election this year is also a prime time to start planting the seeds of politics and how our government works in those curious little minds and the election is a great tool to do that. Celebrate this year’s Election Day by including your kids in on the November 6th activities! Just be cautious – explaining how women get into a binder can be tricky!
Keep in mind; the polls begin to close on the East Coast at 7:00 pm, which is when you’ll start to see results posted for individual states. Every election year is different – results roll in quicker for some elections than others, so be prepared to keep your celebrations flexible.
Bring the Celebrations Home
You can easily make an Election Day celebration at home as basic or as excessive as you’d like it to be! Keep it small by planning a simple, but fun evening for your kids by planning a dinner that you can eat in front of the television to watch the numbers roll in and a special dessert, like a DIY ice cream sundae bar with red, white, and blue sprinkles! While it’s likely that you’re going to be more interested in watching the news than they are – the novelty will wear off as soon as the last drop of hot fudge has been consumed – so, plan some fun ways to keep them engaged. Have the entire family plan Election Night Bingo, filled with words that you’ll know they’ll be saying in the broadcasts, like Obama, Biden, Romney, Ryan, leader/leading, Republicans, Democrats, Governor, President, undecided, winner/winning, voters, etc. Be sure to get in on the fun yourselves, Mom and Dad!
Or, invite some friends or family over for a full blown party on a Tuesday night! Keep the food simple so that you can focus on the fun – order pizzas or put together an easy taco bar for your guest to indulge in. Have everyone – even the kiddos — fill out a faux-ballot when they get to the party and see which candidate would win at your party – we suggest making a picture ballot with the faces of the candidates, for those guests who still can’t read! Or, hold a mock-election yourselves – everyone can run for President of the Election Day Party and wear a hilarious patriotic hat to give their “speech” and present their “platform.” Be sure to hold them to the fire and make them answer the tough questions (you can pre-write them and have each “candidate” draw one to answer), like, “Which is better, dogs or cats?” and “How do you plan on raising allowances?” We can only imagine the funny answers!
Don’t forget; make sure to remind parents that they need to respect the politics of other parents at the party. Everyone must vow to leave the issues at the door and remember that they are celebrating Election Day in kid-friendly style. You can even put a sign on the front door that declares your house a “Purple Zone” — completely neutral! And, if they must discuss politics or the candidates, tell them that they have to call Obama by the name “Susie” and Romney by the name “Alice” – that should help put the end to any heated debates!
Go Out to Watch the Votes Roll In
No matter where you live, from coast-to-coast, you should be able to find kid-friendly restaurants in your city that are broadcasting the election results! Family-friendly places where you can typically find sports playing could be a good option, just be sure to call first to make sure they will have the election playing on TV, instead of replays of last year’s hottest NFL play-off game. Some restaurants will likely be hosting Election Night parties on November 6, 2012, so do a quick online search to see what you can find, as some may be more kid-friendly than others.
If you do head out of the house to watch the results, head out early and stay as long as the kids can stand it – dessert usually helps with that! Not only will it be a memory that your kids will always remember (possibly a new November tradition for your family?), but there’s something about being together with other people on Presidential Election Day, even strangers, that gives you that warm, fuzzy, patriotic feeling in your belly. Or, maybe that’s the molten chocolate cake that you ordered?
Put their Curious Minds to Work
Whether you’re going out or staying home, celebrating with your family or with friends, keep your kids interested in the election results with some fun crafts and games during those moments when it seems like it’s been re-cap after re-cap of the same states for an hour.
Red or Blue? Which are You?
Print out blank maps of the United States – you can find one here at 50States.com and as the states turn red or blue on the TV, indicating which way the Electoral Votes swung in that state, your kids can color them appropriately on their own map. Don’t forget the red and blue crayons!
Guess Who’s Next:
For kids who are old enough to write on their own, print out a master list of all 50 states (can you name them all?) and have them write them out, from 1-50, in the order that they think the results are going to be announced. As they come in, it will be unlikely that anyone actually has the right states in the correct slot, so score a point for whoever has that state highest on their list. For example, if California is announced first and Sam has it as no. 8 on his list, whereas everyone else has it lower, he wins that point.
A Very Sweet Election:
You’ve probably seen those hilarious drinking games that go along with Presidential Debates roaming around on a Facebook page or two? Turn them into a kid-friendly Election version that will keep them paying attention and having fun! Every time someone says Romney or Obama on TV, they eat an M&M (or your family’s candy piece of choice – gummy bears work great too!). When a new state’s results are announced, they eat another one and so on. Make your own list of rules and write it out so that it isn’t a candy eating free-for-all!
How are you celebrating Election Day 2012 with your kids? Leave us a comment below!
— Katie Kavulla