Yesterday was Election Day 2016 in our town and across the United States. Campaign signs lined the streets, people wore "I Voted" stickers proudly, and news outlets swirled with election coverage.
Tory (at age 5) noted the significance of the day and began to ask questions about it. It seemed like a great opportunity to teach her the basic principles of democracy, so yesterday we spent the afternoon learning about the presidential election.
After a quick Google search, I found some great information on the PBS website with tips for helping kids understand the election. I decided Tory and I would make a ballot box and while we worked side-by-side, we'd talk about it.
"What does it mean to vote?" I asked her. Surprisingly, she knew the answer. "It's when everyone votes for who they want to be something. Whoever has the most votes, wins," she said simply. I suppose in her five-year-old mind an election is comparable to playing a game; the person with the most votes, wins.
"Who gets to vote? Can you become President one day? And, what does the President do anyway?" These questions brought up some great conversation between the two of us as we worked away on our craft project. I admit to not knowing all the answers (thanks, PBS, for the talking points!) so it was a nice way to refresh my own grown-up memory on the rules of the land.
After our ballot box was finished, Tory and I made campaign signs for each candidate and printed election ballots on pieces of paper. We talked about the 2016 candidates for President of the United States and I showed her pictures of each person. We also talked about the historic significance of this particular election -- the first woman was running for President of the United States!
Tory gathered up two Barbie dolls to represent each presidential candidate, and a few more to be "voters" in our pretend election. We each took turns filling out our paper ballots and placed them in the ballot box to be counted. Then, Tory read the results and I tallied them on a piece of paper. We counted the votes and in our living room election, Hillary Clinton was the winner.
Tory and I made our own homemade versions of "I Voted" stickers for she and Aden to wear proudly the rest of the evening. What a fun and educational afternoon learning about the election with my little preschooler.
This morning at breakfast, Tory asked me who won the election. "Donald Trump," I told her. She asked with a somber face, "Why didn't anyone vote for the girl?" (See, at age five, it's all about boys vs. girls...) Then, we had a nice discussion over breakfast about how people voted for both candidates but in the end, the person with the most votes wins. We're fortunate enough to live in a place where we're free to express our opinion through voting and more than anything that's the message I hoped Tory gained from our conversation. It's hard to believe Tory will be NINE the next time a presidential election rolls around; it seems so far away.