Monday, November 5, 2012

Guest Blogger: Ashley Moulton

Ashley Moulton is a preschool television production coordinator and member of Children's Media Association

The Presidential Election for Kids

I have lots of personal memories of presidential elections throughout my childhood. I remember voting for Bill Clinton as a kindergartner in my school’s election because he played saxophone and I thought that was cool. In middle school, learning about the Bush v. Gore case in my Social Studies class illustrated the mysteries of the Electoral College. In high school, I was a political pundit on my high school television station’s live coverage of our Mock Democratic Convention.

I’m sure that lots of kids will remember this election, although perhaps equally as many kids echo the sentiment of four-year-old viral sensation Abigael Evans, who tearfully wailed that she was “tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney."  If you’re interested in helping kids engage with the 2012 Presidential Election (hopefully sans tears), here are great ways to help them learn more!

7 tools to help kids engage with the election:

When I was a kid, I always wanted to grow up to be the President. This excellent game, by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics organization, gives kids the chance to find out just how hard it is to be President. Through your own Presidential avatar, you can make speeches, sign bills, and declare war.  I admit: this kid at heart really enjoyed playing!
Print out colorable line drawings of both Barack and Mitt, or better yet, indulge your own presidential ambitions by drawing your own face on a campaign poster.

3. Watch kid focused news specials about the candidates and the issues:
Linda Ellerbee’s “Nick News: Kids Pick the President” specials show the candidates from a kid’s perspective. Hear the candidates’ views on issues important to kids such as the economy, illegal immigration, and what constitutes Barack Obama’s most embarrassing moment. Interestingly, the results of the online voting that corresponded with Nickelodeon’s “Kids Pick the President” initiative indicated that if it were up to kids, Obama would be re-elected. The kids have predicted the winner for 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, and only time will tell if they improve upon their record this year.
Click on states to see the different combinations of states it will take to win the Electoral College. Or, predict the states each candidate will win and share your map to show off your expert guesses!

Brain Pop has great animated videos that answer questions like “What makes you a Democrat or a Republican?,” “How do people get to be president of the United States?,” and “What happens during voting, how does it work?.”

Choose adorable cartoon versions of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, icons for important issues like healthcare and education, and backgrounds to make it look nice… and voila! You’ve made your own digital bumper sticker. You can save your sticker to the PBS Kids website, and vote on stickers other kids have made.

7. Take a kid to the polls
One of the best ways to interest a kid in the election is to take him or her to the polling place with you. I have fond memories of “helping” my mom vote by pressing buttons in the voting booth. By the time I was old enough to vote myself, I was very disappointed that voting booths no longer had levers to pull (at least in my state). But one thing’s for sure: going to vote with my mom instilled the idea in me that voting is important.

I hope that some of these tools help your little one become more interested in the Presidential Election!

Keep the conversation going @AshboNYC.

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