January 2012 kicks off the year with politics in the news. Caucuses and primaries that will lead up to the presidential election in November started on Tuesday, January 3. The primary process and presidential election are both popular topics that you can follow with your children at home through many online kid-friendly resources.
Learning Opportunities with the Primaries
By following the primaries and elections, your children can learn about many different subjects at home. First and most prominent would be civics and politics by following the democratic process. Children can learn about the different political parties, the difference between a caucus and a primary, the issues that surround the election helping them to become an informed citizen. This lesson on primaries vs. caucuses is traditionally used in the classroom however it offers current video clips to help to distinguish the differences between primaries and caucuses.
Social Media & the Election
Another topic that can be incorporated with your at-home discussions can include learning about the campaign process and the effect the spin of the media may have on the election. The University of Michigan provides a page of links that help children to learn about media bias. Different topics like word choice, omission, debate, sources, geography, objectivity, affiliation, and medium are provide. This is a resource that you could work with your child to understand media bias and how it has an effect on an election. Media sources could also be discussed including social media like Twitter and Facebook and how they will impact the election. This video on CNN analyzes the social media trends to see who is being mentioned the most on Twitter and the positive or negative spin that is can have on their campaign. Following along on social media is a great way to get teenagers interested in following the primary elections.
Mapping Skills & Voting
Mapping and graphing can also be taught at home by graphing the percentages that each candidate earns during a primary or a caucus in each state (or maybe your home state). The winners can then be added onto a map of the United States and added up to determine the Republican nominee.
Following the Primaries though Technology
At home, you can also view the Primary Schedule online to see which states will vote next, or even review the Iowa Caucus Results. As the primary elections take place, many of the popular news websites will have interactive sites updated following the elections as they are happening. These sites will include percentage and number of votes per candidate, percentages and maps of precincts reporting, the gender of the voters, and streaming video. This would be a great after dinner activity to watch and follow along with your children. Another activity would be to include this lesson that was designed to be used following the Iowa caucus, however can be adapted, and most likely will be updated for the other primary races.
Following the races through many of the technology tools is a great way to get kids involved at home in becoming an informed citizen.
Article By Laura Ketcham-VanHellemont
Picture By freddthompson
Free Educational Resources by SmartTutor.com