Here in the States, election day is rolling our way crazy fast…and with it hopefully some new dignity for our country… which has been in a bit of a mess- to put it lightly (that being said, if you’re over 18- get out there and VOTE!) It’s so important to teach our littles the values our country was founded on so that they may uphold them when it’s their turn one day, but also the importance of the privilege of voting to uphold these principals…principals like freedom and fairness for all, and that we are one nation under God. This week we’ll be diving in to just that- voting, what a president is, and other United States themed activities. Don’t forget to pop over to my toddler post “Vote!” to find even more USA themed art and play ideas like making George Washington using your littles’ face, star sticker counting, and red, white and blue berry parfaits!
-“My Senator and Me” main idea and details activity: I read the book “My Senator and Me” to my little- it’s a great story that makes how the senate works fairly easy to understand, and also interesting to young children because the main character telling the story is Senator Kennedy’s dog! Then I explained that the main idea of a story means what the story was mostly about. I asked him what he thought this story’s main idea was (trying to get a bill passed) and what the characters did to achieve it. I did have to use guiding questions to get detailed answers out of him, and we flipped back through the pictures (because that’s what good readers do when they answer questions!) so he could use them to help him find the details. I wrote down his thinking on this printable main idea graphic organizer.
-Vote- beginning sound and rhyming: I split the word vote into its beginning and ending sounds (v- and -ote) then had my little brainstorm words that started with v- and rhymed with vote. I wrote down his thinking on a foldable graphic organizer I made by folding a sheet of paper in half, then folding the top down about an inch, then tracing the fold lines.
-G is for government: I made a letter G practice page by writing the letters with dots then having my little trace them with red and blue marker.
-Patriotic name practice: I wrote my little’s first and last name with dots 5 times on a piece of paper, then had him trace it with red and blue markers.
-Identifying coins: I poured out my little’s piggy bank and pulled out a quarter, a nickel, a dime and a penny. Then I had my little take some time looking at both sides of each coin and identifying the symbols he saw on them. We talked about how each symbol represents something from The United States of America, and how they can be used to identify each coin.
-Sorting coins: After exploring the details of each coin in the first activity, I had my little sort them into piles. He did pennies first because they’re copper and easy to spot. Then I suggested he look for the dimes because they’re “the tiny ones”. Quarters and nickels are so similar they almost always trip kids up (even some of the 2nd and 3rd graders I taught!), so I asked him to look at the edges and say what he noticed- he discovered quarters have a bumpy edge and nickels are smooth. That helped him successfully sort them out! I got the inspiration for this activity from The Joy of Teaching.
-Coin skip counting: We’ve been working on counting by 10s during calendar time since probably September when we did our back to school theme (you can click the link to access the activity). My little has gotten so good at it we recently added in counting by 5s (I just wrote the skip counting by 5 numbers on each of his handprints, which we have hanging on the wall of our playroom/school room). Anyway- I thought coins would be an excellent real life way to practice and use skip counting, so after we sorted them into piles by coin, I had my little count up each pile to find out how much money he had. For the pennies, he just moved them from one pile to another as he counted, but to make it easier with the larger value coins, I lined them up for him so he could point to each as he skip counted. Whenever he got to 100 we put those coins in a “dollar” pile. For the quarters, I had him make groups of 4, then count the groups.
-Coin patterns: We played around with our coins by making different patterns with them- first I made a few patterns (penny, penny quarter…heads, tails, heads, tails- all pennies…dime, penny, dime, penny, penny, dime, penny, penny, penny) and had my little complete them. Then he made a few patterns that I had to complete.
-Play voting: This was by far both of my boy’s favorite activity this week! We read the book “Vote” and when they got to the part about registering, I had my littles “register” using these awesome mock registration and voting pages I got for free on Teachers Pay Teachers. We finished reading the book, then I set up a “voting booth” in our living room by making a curtain out of a Swiffer with two pillow cases and a “Vote” sign clipped to it. I hung the Swiffer between two cabinet doors, then had my littles show me their voting registration cards, gave them their ballots, and had them go into the booth to vote (I had to help my toddler since he can’t write yet!) When they were finished I had them fold their papers in half, then place them in a ballot box I made by covering an Amazon box with white paper (you can make a slit for the top by just trimming the box flaps shorter before taping them down!) I also voted, as did my husband- then we counted the votes to see who had won!
-“If I Ran for President” story and activity: I read the story “If I Ran for President” to my little. Then I asked him if he became president, what laws he would want to try to make. I’m totally on board with number 2… hahaha!
-Statue of Liberty penny oxidization experiment: First I read “Wonders of America: The Statue of Liberty” to my little. Then we talked about how since she’s made of copper, the salt water and air have made her turn green over the years- otherwise known as oxidization. Next we did an experiment with pennies to turn THEM green by pouring vinegar on them, then sprinkling them with salt. It’s a good idea to use a few pennies because for some reason some oxidize and some don’t! They’ll usually start to change within a few hours (I took the first picture after about 3 hours, the second after we waited overnight), but are even more impressive if you leave them overnight! My friend Alysha recommended this activity after doing it with her little on the 4th of July- and I found specific instructions on the blog Steamsational!
-“I Voted” sticker craft: We did this on the same day we did our mock election. You just take a paper doily and write “I voted!” in the center, then have your little tape three pieces of patriotic ribbon to the bottom (you can also use strips of red, white and blue paper). You can either pin it to their shirt or stick it on with a piece of packing tape folded in a circle. I got this idea from Kids Activities Blog.
-American flag craft: I had my little cut strips out of a red piece of construction paper, then glue them down to a white sheet of card stock leaving white spaces between them. Then I drew a rectangle on a blue piece of construction paper and had him cut it out and glue it to the top left corner of the striped page. Finally he used wet glue to add on white beads to the blue part of the flag (you can also use star stickers).
- the book “Vote”
- the book “If I ran for President”
- the book “My Senator and Me”
- the book “Wonders of America: The Statue of Liberty”
- pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters
- star stickers or white beads
- paper doilies
- 2 pillow cases
- patriotic ribbon