How do you communicate the basis of democracy to the under 5 crowd? With ice cream, of course!
I checked in with my daughter to see if she knows who is president (she does) and how he got to be president (she did not).
I explained that people vote for the president. We skipped over the whole “electoral college” thing but I’ll explain later how you could make that a part of this activity for older kids.
Then, I said that we could vote, too–for ice cream–and then go out and get some tasty dessert.
We made a ballot box and ballots.
Then, I asked my daughter whether she might try to make people change their votes if she could see them. She agreed that she would and so a “secret ballot” would be best. The idea of “secrets” is very important to a five year old girl so she was very quick to arrive at and grasp this concept!
Next, she went around taking votes. We realized that her little brother couldn’t read the ballot so we drew pictures for him and had a brief conversation about making the ballot accessible to all citizens.
Once all the ballots were collected, she counted them up. If you have older kids, you can make households analogous to states to explain the electoral college. Since my daughter is five, we just did a straight count with the majority winning.
Chocolate was the clear winner. My daughter had voted for vanilla, though, so we discussed whether or not it is “fair” that the majority gets to decide for everyone. “Fairness” is another big concept for five year olds and one we’ll revisit a lot over the next few years.
I also introduced the idea of voting for a “third party” since she often prefers strawberry. We discussed whether it made more sense to vote for what you really wanted or to vote for a choice you could live with that had a better chance of winning.
We also discussed campaigning and my daughter came up with a great slogan for vanilla dipped in chocolate shell: “Vote for Vanilla and Get Two Flavors in One Cone!” I think we’ll revisit this before election day and make posters for our “candidates”.
In the end, everyone won because we all got ice cream!
This post is part of the Smart Summer Challenge. Check out our family’s plans for Week 2: Government and Currency, find out more about the Smart Summer Challenge and grab our free calendar of summer learning ideas, and “like” the Smart Summer Challenge page on Facebook.
Find more great ideas from your hostesses, Candace of Naturally Educational (that’s me!), Amy of TeachMama.com, and MaryLea of Pink and Green Mama!
Hope to see you at the linky party on Friday for ideas from the community and prizes!