Seven free resources for teaching about the election

These free election resources can help students learn about the democratic process.

The 2012 presidential election is drawing near, and educators across the country are using campaign efforts as a chance to teach students about the democratic process, the major issues in the race, and how these issues might affect students now and in the future.

Lots of free resources exist to help teachers incorporate the election into their lesson plans. Here’s a roundup of some of these digital tools and interactive resources for teaching about the election.

If you have a favorite free resource that you don’t see here, be sure to tell us about it in the comments section.

BrainPOP subscribers, or those interested in a trial version of this video service, can access the site’s election resources, which include an election quiz, election games, lesson plans, origins of political parties, and more. The site also features a special section for K-3 election resources.

CNN offers a number of useful tools for teaching about the election. “Eight Steps to the White House” is an animated look at the election process. And an “Ask a President” feature lets students ask questions about election rules, political processes, and more.

MTV has promoted its “Rock the Vote” program for years, and now students can participate in “Fantasy Election” to build a “dream team” of ideal political candidates. The program is modeled after fantasy sports leagues, and students can earn rewards for being active in the 2012 election, such as by reading campaign news, attending town hall events, and watching presidential debates.

PBS LearningMedia launched the Election 2012 Collection, a compilation of election-focused digital resources available to K-12 classrooms and educators nationwide. The 2012 Election Collection features a student-aimed Elections 2012 newscast, highlighting issues from the campaign trail, a multimedia glossary, interactive digital games, and lesson plans geared toward high school students and teachers.

The Election 2012 Collection also will feature “Road Trip to the White House,” a new online game that requires students to answer questions based on animations and multimedia glossary terms, like PAC, Super PAC, primary, caucus, delegates, party platform, battleground states, and more.

Pearson is offering free help to teachers and students as the 2012 election approaches. Students can submit their own ideas regarding what they would do if they were president and what it means to be president. Resources include candidate profiles, a digital election book that students can create, an interactive Constitution, and other tools.

Educators who use Pinterest regularly can use any number of Election 2012 resources. Teachers can choose from a video about the history of voting, lessons from the “Government Fairy,” a campaign finance map, Library of Congress resources, and more.

Rand McNally has released “Play the Election,” a free collaborative, online tool that teaches students about the 2012 presidential election and the election process through games, resources, and competition.

Students predict the election winners for each state on an interactive election map, and compare their predictions to those of their class and the country as a whole to see where they rank. The program also includes eleven digital mini-games that delve deeper into influential and battleground states, like Ohio and Florida.

An accompanying online teacher resource center includes lesson plans based on the Common Core Standards, making it easy to integrate the games and activities into the classroom.

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