Sunday, October 14, 2012

Politics for Preschoolers

The other morning on the way to school, my almost-five-year-old innocently asked, "Mom, where does Mitt Romney sleep?"

These are the moments I would love to just climb inside his little head and get a glimpse of how my little Bug is processing the world around him.

I told him that Mitt Romney is busy traveling the country right now, so he probably sleeps in a lot of hotels or on a big, fancy bus with beds in it. Bug then wanted to know where the mayor slept (I figured he meant the President), so after telling him the mayor sleeps in his house in Wilmington, I told him about the White House--a special building that the American President lives in, down in Washington D.C. (my kids just happen to know about D.C. because that's where Prickly Aunt lives).

The boys know Prickly Dad and I are big into politics and patriotism (Pie sometimes tries to emulate us by insisting he likes to watch the news): we change the flag outside our house for holidays and elections, and usually have someone's campaign sign out in the yard. We've taken them into the voting booth with us for every election since birth...but I know that what we're doing and the concept of government in general has to be confusing.

But it's never too early to start teaching civics, right? I, myself, don't remember learning about presidential elections until fifth grade (I will totally date myself by saying it was Carter vs. Reagan vs. Anderson--who I voted for in the mock election...I've always been a rebel). There aren't many truly authentic ideas out there for preschool election-themed lessons and activities, but I did find a few that I thought might work for my family.

"Your Vote Counts": This early childhood/primary-age unit focuses on the "one person, one vote" concept rather than simply asking little ones which of the actual candidates they would choose (which is meaningless to the kids--they'll just let you in on who their parents are voting for). This lesson plan features a campaign between Cookie Monster and the Count--fictional characters who want the job as classroom helper/arbitrator. This is a really well thought-out unit, and definitely worth a look.

Duck for President: In this cute children's book, a duck is tired of his farm chores and decides to campaign for change. It provides a good and lighthearted introduction to civics (and coincidentally, someone just gave me a free copy, Yay!)

Rights and Responsibilities: BrainPopJr (which seems to be a subscription-based educational site with some free videos and games) has some good ideas about teaching preschoolers about rights and responsibilities. Encourage your child to think about their responsibilities as a member of a group: the family, their class at school, an American, a human being.

Have you seen any good election-themed ideas for the little ones? I'm all ears (elephant or donkey ears...tee-hee!)


  1. I think it's a great idea to get kids interested in the idea of politics from an early age. Unfortunately we live in the UK so I'll have to seek out some UK relevant books (completely different political system). Thanks for lining this to the Sunday parenting party, I'm sharing this on the pinterest board

  2. Hi Monko...let me know if you ever post about British elections. I love learning about the way other people do things!