Subscribe to SLJ
Bowllan's Blog
Inside Bowllan's Blog

2008 Presidential Election Lesson Plan: BrainPOP!!!

Photo Courtesy of jclcitservices you ever heard the song, when a blogger/teacher fails…the whole world fails with him/her. Don’t worry, I will be writing the song tonight. 

I know. It’s a little bit of a dramatic opening, but today was pull my hair – out at the root – day!

Why the mass hysteria? Well, ever hear of the Electoral College? "The people of the United States vote for the electors who then vote for the President." (via NARA archives)

Yeah, right! It’s not that simple to explain. 

Here’s how it all started. 

Today I decided to LEAP, head first into the Electoral College. I researched it like no other and got very excited about using technology time to teach a 4th and 8th grade class about the voting process. I knew it was going to be a challeng. However, the process is an important one to understand with the election just weeks away. Little did I know I would leave the class, after the 40-minutes, only to feel completely numb – asking myself – did they get it?

Here’s how I mapped out  today’s lesson plan:

In teams of two, you will work together on the following Presidential Election scavenger hunt. [I find, students LOVE to access information on their own and report back their findings.]

But first, have a little election fun by viewing the BrainPOP video on the Presidential Election. CLICK HERE [If you haven’t seen this video, you should. It’s great for younger students]

Next, using Microsoft Word, create a graphic organizer with 1 column and 11 rows. (To refresh, click on the Menu Bar –> Click Insert Table.) [We didn’t get to this part, so we used looseleaf to record our answers]

Lastly, using your graphic organizer, answer the following questions based on the video. This will take two class periods, so do not worry if you cannot finish. [Most finished in 1-class period]

Please be advised that the following are in the order that they are discussed.

1) Define: Republic

2) What are two qualifications a person would need to run for president? For example, how old do you have to be? Do you need to be wealthy?

3) What are the two main political parties? Name two others.

4) Define: Running Mate and Platform

5)  When is Election Day?

6) True or False – a president is picked by the number of popular votes he/she receives?

7) True or False – the Electoral College picks the president. [Here’s the tough question]

8) How many electors are there?

9) How many electoral votes are needed to win the presidency?

10) When a president is sworn in, they take an oath to do what?

*11 (bonus) What happened in the year 2000 between President Bush and Al Gore?

These questions are pretty straightforward and most of the students were able to answer them. The team piece worked beautifully too. But to be honest, I am still not sure they fully understand that we vote for electors who then vote for the president. Next week’s class will be the true test, since each week we debrief and talk about the ‘stick factor.’ OR – what do you recall from the previous lesson?  

Anyone have an easier way of explaining the Electoral College? I still have a few hair strands left.


  1. The picture book Grace for President really explains the electoral college clearly.

  2. Amy Bowllan says:

    Thanks, Laurie, I will be sure to pick up a copy.

  3. I read your post the week I was attempting to accomplish the same task. My presentation got better as the week went on. This is my blog entry on how I struggled to teach the Electoral College. // Thanks for the Brain pop link. I forwarded it to my teachers as they have the technology to show the students.