A Presidential Election Unit Study {in 2 hours or less}

So there’s a pretty important presidential election coming up here in the next few weeks. Are you ready?

My kids are old enough this time around to get in the conversation, but I’ll be honest with you- the idea of jumping into some lapbook-and-fanfare unit study was just not my idea of a good time. I wanted to cover the presidential election, but I also wanted simple. No crafts, lapbooks, hands-on projects, recipes or long drawn-out lessons, thankyouverymuch. I’ll take the Presidential Election Unit for lazy homeschool moms, please. ;) (Come on, we’ve been over this before, haven’t we?)

I thought there just might be a very remote possibility that some of you need the quick-and-dirty version yourself? The I-just-want-my-kids-to-have-some-basic-knowledge-but-please-don’t-make-me-create-a-raised-relief-map-of-the-electoral-college version?

Yeah. You’re in the right place.

Don’t despair! We’re only weeks out but you still have plenty of time to hit the main concepts with your kids. And (soldiers rejoice!) you can do it without cutting or pasting a single thing. No crafts, no cooking, no supermom projects of any kind. Best of all, you can do it even if you have very little American civics knowledge yourself.

Here’s what you need to do the job:

    I have been very impressed with these short, inexpensive books. They are 48 pages, contain simple graphics and easy-to-read font, and can be tackled in one or two sittings. The explanations are fabulous. I recommend reading them aloud to your kids. The books facilitate some great discussions you won’t want to miss, and hey- you might learn a thing or two along the way yourself!

    I read the first book aloud in one sitting while my kids colored and played with legos on a rainy afternoon. We’d stop when there was an interesting tidbit or fact and discuss it. I split the U.S Government book into two sittings (lots of information there!) and utilized the white board a bit to copy some of the diagrams and flesh out an idea or two. You can read both books in two hours or less. They do an excellent job of handling the subject matter in a light conversational tone.

    If you really want to go the extra mile, you can check out Sobel’s other related books:

     But you can keep things uber-duber simple and skip these (for now) if you just want to cover some good solid basics before election day (that’s what I did).

    Now, to get that tricky electoral college business down, head to Scholastic’s Election Page and get your kids to play The Electoral Challenge game down there on the left side of the screen. My kids played it for an afternoon and are now experts, give-or-take. It’s fun!

    I can’t really vouch for the the rest of the Scholastic website; there are other games and a few short videos that look like they may be worthwhile. Like (seemingly) everything else, I do detect a smidgen of bias, so you know… use your own judgement.

    I also had my kids watch Schoolhouse Rock’s version of I’m Just a Bill, just for fun:

    That’s it! Arm yourself with a couple of good books, plunk down on the couch with some hot cider and your kids, and banish your I-can’t-believe-my-kids-don’t-know-what-a-senator-does guilt. Sometimes I think we homeschooling moms make things more complicated than they need to be. The election is only a few weeks away- it’s time to hit the easy button.

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    1. says

      How about the easy version in all areas of homeschooling?!!!

      I re-pinned your pin found on the “be encouraged” board, it was just what I needed to read, so thanks for sharing. I’ve also commented on the original blog thanking her for writing the article in the first place.

      Have a good weekend

      San xx

    2. says

      Hi Sarah!
      I’m looking into buying a Kindle… any recommendations? I noticed you linked to the Kindle version of the election books so I’m assuming you have one. :)I’d really like to use it to play audiobooks for the kids too. If you have any advice, that would be great!! Thank you!

      • Anonymous says

        Hi Sara,
        I don’t have a kindle,but I do have the free kindle app for my droid and on my lap top. You can down load the apps for free and ther are many free books or low cost book to download.

        Hope this helps.


      • says

        I don’t have a Kindle, Jodi (I just put those links there to make the books easy to find for Kindle-users). I actually have a Nook and I like it, but I would definitely recommend a Kindle over a Nook if you are looking yo buy an e-reader. Amazon’s selection is better than Barnes and Noble– they have more free books, too!

      • says

        Ya’know, Sarah, I realized after I posted my question that your picture of Prim is of her holding one of the books! I figured after that, that I was probably assuming wrong about you owning a Kindle! Sorry! But thank you for the advice on a Kindle over a Nook. I actually downloaded the free Kindle app that Lisa recommended and was able to get The Wizard of Oz for free on Audible. This was our first audio book!!! We finished it in one day because my kids enjoyed it so much. Thanks for introducing us to the greatness of audio books!

    3. says

      I was just thinking about wanting to do something like this, and then you went and did all the work for me! ;) Thank you! I am going to do this lesson plan with my son. It looks great.

    4. says

      My boys are a bit older, but I just haven’t had the time to figure out how to incorporate a full study in to our schedule. I’ll have to take a look at this. I feel like my boys are woefully ignorant of the whole process, so this might just be the solution. Thanks for sharing!

    5. says

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been wondering how I could address the election with my kids without putting the rest of our full schedule into an upheaval – or spending hours on crafts and such! We do regular read-alouds at lunch, and these books will be perfect. I just ordered all four from Amazon, figuring I can at least cover the first two before Nov. 6 and get to the others later. On behalf of all busy homeschool moms everywhere, I salute you for giving us a simple but purposeful option!

    6. says

      I love your Easy button! Been feeling guilty about our lack of civics education over here. If I do it your way, I’ll end up smarter along with my kiddos. :-)