It’s encouraging to see how many parents have asked us for voting activities for elementary students or any kids too young to vote this year. With the election just a few weeks away, our kids have surely heard us talking about different candidates, issues, and ballot questions, they’ve seen political signs on lawns, and perhaps they’ve even heard us yelling at our TVs and computer screens. (Guilty.)
While our kids may be a decade — or more — from voting age, it’s important we impress on them the importance of voting in every election, the right and the privilege it is for all American citizens, and why we do it even in non-presidential election years.
Recently, I shared lots of ideas for teens who aren’t old enough vote, and today, I’m putting together ideas just for elementary aged kids, for you parents who are searching for fun, meaningful, and non-partisan voting activities so our young kids can feel like they’re participating in this major event as well.
While you’re at it, you might want to check out our tips for how to talk to kids about politics during an ugly election year. AKA why Mom is yelling at the TV again,
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Fun voting activities for elementary students
Fill out a voting coloring page for kids
Combine story time with this creative “Vote for _____” coloring page created by CMP favorite illustrator Micah Player for Kids Made Modern. You might be surprised what your kids think are the important issues this year. You may see that they’ve voted for ice cream for dinner, but hey, that’s a win-win for all.
Read a picture book about voting
Before you offer your kid a coloring page, it might be a good idea to read a little bit about voting and talk to them about some of the issues out there. You know, beyond ice cream for dinner. Kids care about all kinds of issues that may not seem overtly political, but which can be impacted by our elected officials. Think sports, animals, bullying, school funding, science…it’s pretty vast.
So reading picture books about the issues they care about, or about voting in general, can be a great start to any voting activity for elementary students.
And here’s where Micah Player helps us out again. I love that kids can watch the Instagram video of Micah reading his new picture book, Vote For Our Future! which he illustrated for Margaret McNamara.
There’s also the brand new Everyone Gets a Say, by Jill Twiss and EG Keller. You may remember them as the #1 New York Times bestselling team behind Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo and The Someone New.
We’re also fans of What Does it Mean to Be an American, written by the bipartisan team Rana DiOrio and Elad Yoran. It really is wonderful.
Download a printable voting kit for kids
Host an entire mini election in your living room with the clever and free Kids Voting Kit printables from Barley & Birch. Let your kids come up with the issues of importance to them (e.g., “what movie snacks are best”, “our next pet”, or “scariest amusement park ride”) and then vote on them at your in-home “polling place” which you can decorate with the included banners and signs. There are even “I voted” stickers or badges to be handed out after ballots are cast.
And check back at Barley & Birch for their cardboard DIY ballot box instructions which should be available soon.
Let them vote on their own kid-ready printable ballots
We featured these patriotic voting ballots and “I Voted” tags from Studio DIY back in 2016 in our post 7 fun political activities for kids to do on election night. No mudslinging included. Let your kids write in the candidates or issues that they are supporting this year, or for even younger kids, ask them to vote for favorite dinners, cartoon characters, or Halloween candy. It’s all about giving them the experience to vote.
Casting ballots as a family is also a good way to teach kids about losing gracefully if their choice does not win the family vote — or, asking them, if they don’t like the results, what they can do to change things, as Meena Harris described to us in a recent episode of Spawned.
And, um, that may be a good exercise for us grownups too, should the vote not go the way we hope in November.
Get crafty with this DIY ballot box tutorial
If you’re in need of a ballot box in which to put all those collected ballots, check out this DIY ballot box tutorial from Motherhood on a Dime. Super easy to make with a leftover Kleenex box, and I’d let my kids decorate it with paints, stickers, and colorful washi tape.
Just be sure they know that it’s not an actual legally approved ballot box for presidential ballot collection. Though if you’re voting by mail this year, they can certainly collect the adults’ real ballots in here, before you drop them off at an authorized location.
Make this DIY Future Voter pin
Here’s another voting activity for elementary students that’s designed to get them excited to vote in a few years: Let them create and decorate their own DIY Future Voter pin for kids using the instructions from Family Fun Crafts.
Using recycled items and a few common craft supplies, this is one your kids can personalize with things you have around the house, like ribbons or stickers.
Make a VOTE sign for your window
What a great fine-motor-skills builder and voting activity for elementary students from ActivitesForKids: Grab a few sheets of star stickers from an office or school supply store and have your kids make “VOTE” signs. Feel free to trace the letters in pencil for very young kids and make the banners as big or small as you want. Or let slightly older kids create theirs any way they’d like.
Once complete, you can hang the banners around the house, place them in your windows for neighbors to see, or turn smaller ones into cards to mail to friends and family so that you can remind them, too, of the importance of voting.
Kids can even write a note of encouragement inside to remind us adults that it is their future for which they are voting.
Hold a mock election
Check out this cool idea from Georgia-based Treehouse Kid & Craft: They’ll mail out free mock election ballots for kids from now until October 20. (Though if you’re local to one of their locations, they ask you to stop by their store to pick one up). Return your ballots by November 3rd, and they will tally the votes and announce the winner in this just-for-fun election.
It’s a great way to talk to your kids about mail-in voting and how it is done safely — and help them see how every single vote matters, and that lots of individuals can add up to a pretty big electorate.
Oh…while you’re on the site, check out their super-cool voting-related t-shirts for kids. Which is another way to help younger kids feel engaged in the process.
Make some “I Voted” treats to celebrate civic participation
Celebrate the day you drop off your ballot or visit the polls (or even your kids’ own mock ballots, above) by whipping a batch of cupcakes together with your kids. Even better, top them with these free printable “I Voted” cupcake toppers from our friend Jordan at Oh Happy Day.
Associating voting with cupcakes at a young age can’t be a bad idea, right? Besides, they’ll have a lifetime of looking forward to all those Election Day bake sales at school-based polling locations!
If you’re feeling ambitious, or have older who can take over most of this project, I especially love the idea of having your kids create patriotic cupcakes like these red, white, and blue layered cupcakes from Two Sisters Crafting. Once you’ve assembled them top off with the printable “I Voted” banners and dig in!
One more option we love: these no-bake VOTE cookies from Finding Debra. Featured in our post about ways teens can get involved in this election when they’re too young to vote, they are not too advanced for younger kids to make with you.
You may want to make sure little chocolate-covered fingers don’t go from the cookies to the mouth to the cookies to the mouth, but, other than that, we think kids will have a blast making these sweet treats.
And bonus points to you if you hand them out to neighbors, or sell them to raise money for a favorite cause of your own child’s.
Not up for going fully from scratch? We get it, things are busy right now! So windy city friends, you are in luck with this adorable DIY Vote Cookie Kit from Vanille Patisserie which you can either pickup or have delivered to your Chicago address before the election.
Nowhere near Chicago? Consider using this idea as inspiration to create your own round “Vote” cookies for the kids to decorate using sprinkles, frostings, and edible gels and you can even order some of our favorite I Voted stickers.
Save a few of these for the night of November 3. We’ll need something to mindlessly snack on as the results roll in, that’s for sure.