Grandparents, Family, and Friends Day is a day worth looking forward to each year. It is such a pleasure meeting those people who are nearest and dearest to the 3rd grade students, as well as visiting with the family members I see often. Thank you to all who were able to go through the scavenger hunt with your child -- it was a meaningful and memorable experience for them. To those who we missed -- I hope you had a restful and family-filled holiday weekend!
The 3rd graders are currently finishing up a robust unit on civics and government. Part of what we learned during this unit was who The Constitution states is qualified to run for president, and what unwritten qualities people look for in a president. Studying real campaign posters helped us determine that the people want a president who is trustworthy, energetic, focused, and kind. The students have also finished reading a novel about a character who is campaigning for office (Bad Kitty for President, The Kid Who Ran for President, or NEATE to the Rescue).
Another topic of study was the two main political parties, and the basic beliefs of each. Democratic posters taught us the symbol of the donkey, the party color of blue, and the main beliefs of social responsibility, equality, and a powerful government. Republican posters taught us the symbol of the elephant, the party color red, and the core beliefs of personal responsibility, limited government, and lower taxes. With their new understanding of candidates, campaigns, and parties, along with the background knowledge gained from the "pumpkin politics" activity you read about here, the students created their own campaign posters for a fictional candidate. The requirements for the poster were based on what we saw in real campaign posters throughout history: they must represent their party, include a slogan, and communicate something to us about what their candidate is all about.
Each student acted as the campaign manager for his/her candidate, giving a brief description of the candidate and the poster, and telling why their candidate is the best person for the job of president of the United States!
The campaign posters were then hung in 2 categories, Democrat and Republican.
Next, we held a primary election to choose our 2 presidential candidates. When the results came in, the campaign managers got the chance to make their argument as to why their candidate should be chosen.
It was now time for the general election. But FIRST, we had to learn about electoral colleges. The students cast their vote, and were then assigned a state to represent. This meant that their ballot would be worth the amount of electoral votes that their state gets. This added an element of suspense and surprise as I added up the votes.
As each ballot came in, I represented the votes in various ways, using addition, subtraction, or whole numbers. The students were then tasked with finding the total for each candidate.
Even with the random voting and assignment of states, the election came down to just TWENTY ELECTORAL VOTES! I'm sure you can imagine the excitement as the republican candidate was announced the winner. The democratic candidate gave a graceful concession speech, and our new president was equally as graceful, promising to make our country proud.
Our student teacher, Ms. Silverman, led the students through a fun and engaging exercise in politics last month. Read her post below to find out what the students did and how it went!
In order to teach the kids more about elections and the political process, we decided to use pumpkins. You might wonder how pumpkins connect to the political process? Pumpkin politics, of course! Students had the opportunity to learn about campaigning and elections, using two pumpkins as our candidates for "Best Pumpkin in the United States." Two students were each assigned to one of the pumpkins and were asked to campaign on its behalf. Students learned about campaigning, and how it is a process where candidates try to convince and influence others to vote for them. Students representing the pumpkins wrote campaign speeches, which they delivered to the whole class. After, the students who presented the campaign speeches "traveled" throughout the room to different states represented by the remaining students, trying to convince the students to vote for their pumpkin. Then, we held a mock election. Before the winner was announced, we made sure to discuss the importance of appropriate behavior, whether the pumpkin candidate they voted for won or lost. Ultimately, it was a very close race. The names of the two pumpkins running in this election were Sir Pumpkin Lo Pumpkinoid and Roaldy. The winner was Roaldy by one vote. This showed the kids how close election races can be and how every vote counts. The kids really seemed to enjoy this experience and gain a better understanding of politics.
Little people, big minds.