Learn about the U.S. Presidential election process.
- List the three main Constitutional qualifications for becoming President of the United States.
- Conduct background research on a candidate and present information to the class in order to be an informed participant in a mock primary election.
- Analyze and compare election campaigns in order to create their own campaign commercial or advertisement.
- Participate in a mock general election.
- Determine how many states are needed for their candidate to win the Presidency.
- NCSS Standard: VI. Power, Authority, & Government
- NCSS Standard: X. Civic Ideals & Practices
Time Required: 1-2 Days
Recommended Grade Level: 4-9
Topics: Government, History
Constitutional Qualifications for President
Objective: Students will be able to list the three Constitutional qualifications for President and evaluate a candidate's eligibility.
- The instructor should gather a list of people ahead of time that the students could research to determine their eligibility for the Presidency. Examples include celebrities, sports figures, or politicians.
- Students should read Article II Section 1 of the Constitution to determine the 3 Constitutional qualifications.
- Students should use a variety of resources to determine if the person meets the Constitutional qualifications for President.
- Results should be shared with the class.
Extension Activity: Research qualifications for leadership in other countries. How does it compare to the United States?
Primaries and Caucuses
Objective: Students will conduct background research on a candidate and present information to the class in order to be an informed participant in a mock primary election.
- Choose at least three candidates from both major political parties and divide the class into groups to research the candidates.
- Groups should create a presentation that includes basic biographical information on the candidate, as well as at least three major issues the candidate supports.
- Groups should present their information to the class.
- Following the presentations, students should be divided into the major political parties. Students should receive ballots according to the party they are sorted in and should vote to determine the winners of the primary election.
Extension Activity: Research individual state requirements on primary election and caucus requirements. What are the restrictions, if any, on participating and on voting?
- How to Become Presidents of the U.S. Poster - USAGov
- Election of the President & Vice President: Primary Election - Ben's Guide
National Conventions and Campaigning
Objective: Students will be able to analyze and compare election campaigns in order to create their own campaign commercial or advertisement
- Analyze the campaigns of current or past candidates (examples include websites, social media, mailings, and videos)
- Students should compare the campaign tactics. What is similar between candidates? What is different?
- Students should record examples of techniques they think are effective.
- Students should create a campaign commercial or advertisement to promote a candidate of their choice
- Research the importance of geography to a campaign. Why are swing states important? Why do some locations get more campaign stops than other locations?
- Research the qualifications for Vice President. What are some of the reasons that people are selected to be a running mate in an election?
Objective: Students will participate in a mock general election.
- Review when the General Election day occurs. The instructor may wish to show images of people going to the polls to vote as well as to show images of voting machines.
- Explain how the General Election is the popular vote - it is who the people believe should be President.
- Pass out ballots with the winners from the primary election. Allow students to vote in a mock General Election.
- Ask students if this is the last stop in the election process. Explain that there is one more step.
Extension Activity: Research the different controversies surrounding voting machines, ballots, absentee ballots, etc.
- How to Become Presidents of the U.S. Poster - USAGov
- Election of the President & Vice President: General Election - Ben's Guide
Objective: Students will determine how many states are needed for their candidate to win in order to win the Presidency.
- Using the winner from the class General Election, identify which party the electoral votes will go to for your state. You may choose to use the Make Your Prediction tool.
- In teams, have students determine how many other states your candidate would need to win in order to win the Presidency. Students can choose to use the Make Your Prediction tool.
- Once students have determined the appropriate number of states, have students explain the difference between the General Election and the Electoral College vote.
- Have students research which party states have historically sided with and incorporate that information into their map when deciding how many states the candidate needs to win.
- Have students research elections where a candidate won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote.
- How to Become Presidents of the U.S. Poster - Kids.gov
- U.S. Election & Voting Resources - National Archives
- Make Your Prediction - National Archives
- Historic Electoral College Maps - National Archives
- Election of the President & Vice President: Electoral College - Ben's Guide