Students at Solomon Schechter Day School in West Hartford learned about elections this fall, with age-appropriate lessons customized for each grade level.
Submitted by Audrey Sobel, Solomon Schechter
During the time period surrounding Election Day, each of the K-8 classes at Solomon Schechter Day School in West Hartford were engaged in lessons and activities related to elections and voting. Each teacher created age-appropriate lessons to help their students learn about the topic, including why we vote, how to register, participating in the elections process, the history of voting rights, and the influence of social media on elections.
Kindergarten students read the book “Duck For President,” discussed what an “informed decision” is, and did a pro and con activity to analyze different snacks. After registering to vote, students then made informed decisions as they voted on their favorite class snack. The winning snack (cookies!) was enjoyed on Wednesday.
Grades 1-2 voted on their favorite snack as well as their favorite pet. Students learned that you can’t just show up and vote; you also need to be registered. They created their own voter registration cards and then designed campaign posters to promote their candidates. The excitement was palpable as the votes were tallied. In an interesting turn of events, a tie led to a run-off vote among the top pet candidates. And the winners were: popcorn and dogs!
Students in grades 3-4 read about voting and election day. Then, working in small groups, students created a timeline about the implementation of voting rights over the years. The students then created their own voter registration ID cards and used them to cast a private vote at their class voting booth. The question on the ballot: should daylight savings time become permanent?
Students in grades 5-6 read about and discussed the history of the 15th and 19th Amendments as part of a larger understanding of the history of voting rights in America: Who could vote when our country was founded? Whose voting rights had to be fought for? Students also wrote about why voting is important.
Seventh grade students had been discussing this topic for a week, learning what they as voters need to know about candidates running in local elections. On Election Day, they used the educational online resources from iCivics to learn about the importance of researching candidates running for office. The students were also introduced to Fannie Lou Hamer, who fought against a brutal system so she could exercise her right to vote.
Schechter’s oldest students in eighth grade discussed the history and significance of midterm elections. This led into a discussion around media literacy (what is it) and its place in local, state, and federal elections. Students engaged in a spirited discussion about the role of social media, what constitutes a fact, and how to determine fact from misinformation online.These critical skills will be important as students grow up in a world where it will be increasingly more difficult to detect what’s real and what’s not.
By having these conversations in developmentally appropriate ways, we hope to inspire the next generation of citizens and voters. More details of age-appropriate election activities and discussions at Solomon Schechter can be found here.
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