As this election year progresses and the Presidential race comes into closer focus, how do we speak to our kids about things like civic engagement, voting, and the essential functions of a Democracy?

Mountain Lake PBS, PBS LearningMedia, and PBS Parents have a variety of activities, videos, discussion prompts and lesson plans to help you do just that. Continue below for a curated collection featuring resources for children grades PreK – 12, and visit our Vote 2020 page for up-to-date national and local election news.

Introduction to Civics & Elections for Young Children

Let’s Vote! Talking to Children About Voting | PBS Parents
Grades PreK-3
This collection helps families explore elections with picture books about civic responsibility, video about how communities come together to vote, and activities, crafts, and games aimed at developing important counting and sorting skills.

Queen Sara Explains Voting | Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Grades PreK-K
Queen Sara and King Friday explain the process of voting to Daniel Tiger and his friends and ask them to stop, think and choose before voting on which playground equipment they’d like.

In the Neighborhood Voting Booth | Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Grades PreK-K
Learn how voting makes a difference with Daniel Tiger as he votes on whether he’d like swings or a slide in the new playground. His father explains the process of voting, Daniel makes his choice, and then the votes are counted.


Civic Participation & Elections for Kids and Teens

Why Midterm Elections Are Important | Things Explained
Grades 3-8
In this episode of Things Explained, host Sara Hopkins explains the importance of midterm elections and how they can impact a sitting president.

The Great Debates | 60-Second Presidents
Grades 4-12
Learn the role that presidents have played in shaping the nation’s “Great Debates” in this research and writing activity from 60-Second Presidents.

The Powers of Government
Grades 5-8
In this interactive lesson, learn about the three branches of the United States government. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on the powers that the Constitution assigns to each branch—legislative, executive, and judicial—and how the three branches work together.


Teacher Resources

Teacher Planning Kits for New School Routines | Elections and Civic Participation
Grades PreK-12
An eight-week planning kit designed for PreK-12 teachers everywhere to help navigate this year’s new and changing school routines. Each kit includes featured lessons and collections designed to provide additional support around timely topics. This kit includes a featured section dedicated to teaching elections and civic participation.

Presidential election process | USA Gov
Grades 4-12
A great source for lesson plans and presentations describing the presidential election process, including the Electoral College, caucuses and primaries, and the national conventions.

Will Young Voters Turn Out to Vote This Year? | PBS NewsHour
Grades 6-12
Though members of Generation Z have captured national attention as the central force of protests across the country, it remains to be seen whether or not youth activism will translate to youth voter turnout in the fall. Support Materials are available to help guide student discussions and further learning.

Lights, Camera, Politics: Create Your Own Presidential Campaign Ad – Lesson Plan
Grades 7-12
In this lesson plan, students will explore historical presidential campaign ads and then create their own TV ads.


LearningMedia Collection Highlight

The Election Collection |  PBS LearningMedia
Grades 4-12
Voting and elections are an essential part of democracy. Keep up with election news, study the history and process of presidential elections, explore voting rights, and engage in classroom debates with these videos, activities, and lesson plans.

Resources from the collection

PBS Electoral Decoder
Grades 6-12
Use this cartogram to explore all 58 past presidential elections from 1789-2016! Learn about the significance of the Electoral College, delve further into the history of every past election, and use the “Presidential Predictor” to try and decide the outcome of the next election. Who will win? Who will lose?

Down Ballot Voting | We The Voters
Grades 7-12
Everyone’s pumped for the presidential election. But did you know that there are dozens of other people and referendums lower down on the ballot? Learn about how important state and local elections really are. 

Election Basics | Crash Course Government and Politics
Grades 9-12
Have you ever wondered about how the election system as we know it came to be? How about what the Constitution does, and doesn’t, say about the complex ways we choose our candidates and uphold a nationwide right to vote?


Important Links and Dates

Links

Dates

  • Friday, October 9 – Deadline to register online to vote (In New York)
  • Saturday October 24 to Sunday November 1 – Early Voting period
  • Tuesday, October 27 – Deadline to request a ballot by mail (In New York). The application must be received by this day.
  • Tuesday, November 3 – Election Day