The Democracy Project

for Parents & Teachers

Resources and information about "The Democracy Project"...

Why Vote? A Public Awareness Campaign

Subjects: Social Studies/Language Arts

Estimated Time of Completion: four to five fifty minute class periods

  1. I. Summary
  2. II. Objectives
  3. III. Materials Needed
  4. IV. Procedure
  5. V. Classroom Assessment
  6. VI. Extensions and Adaptations
  7. VII. Relevant Standards

I. Summary

Students will learn that towns include people whose jobs contribute to the quality of community life. Students will use the online activity "How Does Government Affect Me?" as a springboard to discuss the importance of voting. The lesson will culminate with the creation of "Please Vote" bookmarks, a public awareness campaign.

II. Objectives

  • Students will improve their reading, spelling, vocabulary and grammar skills.
  • Students will use the Internet to research.
  • Students will gain knowledge about their city's government.
  • Students will be able to list reasons for voting in elections.
  • Students will be able to provide some information about the local election.
  • Students will practice their math measurement skills.

III. Materials Needed

  • Computers with Internet access will be used for the online activity, research and for capturing candidates' pictures
  • For bookmarks: pencil, markers, glue, construction paper, ribbon, local magazines, newspapers, and any promotional media from the city
  • For bulletin board: digital camera (optional), and clear plastic to cover board

IV. Procedure

  1. Introduce the lesson by using the classroom bulletin board to create a simple map of the school. Ask students to brainstorm the different people within the school that help to make the school run efficiently (nurse, principal, teacher, bus driver, custodian, etc.). Students could either take digital pictures (if a digital camera is available) or students can use illustrations of either the worker or type of work represented.

    The students will place the pictures and names of these workers in the correct spots on the bulletin board map of their school. (This useful map would be a great for orienting new students; fire drill exits may also be identified.) The teacher will then elicit responses from students about responsibilities of those workers at school and what would happen should these people fail to meet their responsibilities.

  2. Extend the idea of helpers to the town. Students will brainstorm and name people that help the town run properly. Explore the equivalents of the school principal, nurse, custodian, etc. found in a town.
  3. For homework, ask students to determine how their parents, neighbors, and/or relatives assist in community success (this includes jobs or volunteer activities).
  4. Younger children may bring in an object to represent a parent, relative, or friend's work or contribution to society. It would be similar to a show and tell activity. Older students may share their findings through oral discussion, journal writing, or creation of class "thank you" cards to area adults.
  5. Direct students to the online game "How Does Government Affect Me?" Tell students that they are going to learn more about how government?and government workers?affect the life of the community.
  6. After students play the online game, they should have a good understanding of how government affects their everyday lives. Explain to students that one other way their parents, relatives, and neighbors contribute to the success of the community (and the country) is by voting. Draw upon students' newly-acquired knowledge: why is voting so important? Students will be told that they will be good and useful citizens by participating in a project to encourage voting. Their newly-acquired information will prove useful to them because they will be creating motivational bookmarks that will provide adults with basic information about local elections and reasons for voting.
  7. Students may also visit the online activity, "Inside The Voting Booth." Here, students will gain a deeper historical understanding of the privilege of voting.
  8. In order to create the bookmarks, students will find out what local elected offices exist in their area. Students will use e-mail, letters, printed materials (flyers, brochures, pamphlets), field trips, guest speakers, Web pages, etc. to gather information about these positions, who occupies the position and the duties of each job. Students will also conduct research to find pertinent information about the local elections and local voting behaviors. The teacher may wish to brainstorm with students (especially the younger ones) some reasons for voting. Playing "How Does Government Affect Me?" will have prepared students for this discussion.
  9. Students will create bookmarks that encourage and provide reasons for voting and/or bookmarks that give some local election information. Students will use their math measuring skills to measure the appropriate size to be cut from construction paper. After students add illustrations and text, laminate the bookmarks. Punch holes in the top, and tie each with a ribbon. Bookmarks could possibly be in shapes of elephants, donkeys, or other government or voting symbols. Each bookmark might follow a "Did you know?" format. For example: "Did you know that in the 2000 election for President only 36 percent of citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 voted?"
  10. Students should create two bookmarks each (one the student will keep and one that will be shared with the community).
  11. Students should distribute the finished bookmarks through local banks, dentist offices, the local League of Women Voters, the local Motor Vehicles bureau, public libraries, etc.

IV. Classroom Assessment

  • Students should have completed all assignments and actively participated in all discussions.
  • Students should have completed two satisfactory bookmarks encouraging adults to vote.
  • Students' bookmarks should be the evidence that indicates understanding of voting behaviors.
  • Students should be able to list reasons why good citizens vote and how that affects all people.

V. Extensions and Adaptations

  • Students could design other craft items that encourage voting such as buttons, stickers, pencil covers, or badges.
  • Students could take field trips of official city and county buildings and/or community service organizations to distribute the students' bookmarks.
  • Older students may invite parents or neighbors to be guest speakers to discuss what they do in the community.
  • If students have a bookmark on a computer in a word processor or graphics file, students could e-mail the attached file to other teachers in the building or to town officials.

VII. Relevant National Standards

These are established by McREL:

Language Arts

  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
  • Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions


  • Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs including the Internet


  • Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of measurement

Social Studies

  • Understands ideas about civic life, politics, and government
  • Understands the sources, purposes, and functions of law, and the importance of the rule of law for the protection of individual rights and the common good
  • Understands the importance of political leadership, public service, and a knowledgeable citizenry in American constitutional democracy responsibilities
  • Knows the fundamental principles of American democracy (e.g., the people are sovereign; the power of government is limited by law; people exercise their authority directly through voting; people exercise their authority indirectly through elected representatives)
  • Knows how the values and principles of American democracy can be promoted through participating in government (e.g., voting, keeping informed about public issues, writing to legislators, serving on juries)
  • Knows how people can participate in their state and local government (e.g., being informed, taking part in discussing issues, voting, volunteering their time, and understands why it is important that people participate in their state and local government (e.g., improve the quality of life in their community, gain personal satisfaction, prevent officials from abusing power)
  • Understands why it is important for citizens to monitor their local, state, and national governments; and knows ways people can monitor the decisions and actions of their government such as reading about public issues, watching television news programs, discussing public issues