It’s an election year and that means a lot of political signs, commercials and visible campaigning—which can lead to questions about how we elect officials (like the president!) to office. Stage some in-house (and at the polls) activities to give little ones an idea of the process. Scroll down for four simple ideas you can implement on Election Day. 

Hold an At-Home Election

There are plenty of everyday decisions that are worthy of a vote. What should you have for dinner? Who will read bedtime stories? Make a list of the top few household "ballot measures" and let the kiddos cast their vote. You can just draw up a few pieces of paper with the initiatives and boxes for checkmarks. 

You can also have everyone vote on one thing and "cast" their vote into a little box. Take an empty tissue box and let the kiddos decorate it, or convert a shoebox into the ballot box. The ballot box helps emphasize the anonymity of the voting process. Mom or Dad can read the votes out loud while one of the kiddos keeps a simple count. 

Partner

Read All About It

Just in time for the 2020 election, the creators of the New York Times bestselling book Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo have a new children's book that's all about speaking up and using your voice. Everyone Gets a Say is a picture book about furry friends who can't seem to agree on anything, and decide they need a leader. But, how do they pick who's in charge? This fun book is perfect for teaching younger kids about democracy and voting with characters and concepts they'll understand!

Get your copy of Everyone Gets a Say here!

Make a Voting Booth

Make a polling place at home! For a simple one, just pick a corner and string up a wire, hand a curtain over. If you happen to have a big ol’ cardboard box around, you can convert that into a little booth. A three-fold cardboard or box on its side will do, too. Kiddos can decorate the inside with markers. Let them take turns stepping inside the booth to vote. 

Take the Kids With You

Yes, you can take your children to vote with you! Check your state laws for how many can come in with you at once (some only allow two or fewer) but all polling places will allow children 17 and under to come into the booth with Mom or Dad. It goes without saying that your kids need to be on good behavior and may be asked to leave if they're disrupting the voting process for others, but guess what else? You can actually let your kids vote for you. While we don’t advise letting them make all the marks, you can have them fill in that line for you. Just remember to keep voices library-level low while doing it. With any luck, you'll both get "I voted!" stickers. Snap a photo of your proud little voter-in-tow to mark their first election but remember photos are not allowed inside polling places, so be sure to do it outside on the streets or at home. 

—Amber Guetebier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo: European Parliament via flickr