Students learn about the democratic process of the American government. Students then study a group of presidential campaign posters and learn what types of issues the candidates choose to address, and then make a poster for a run for class president.
This lesson is part of Great States: Idaho | Unit 10: Famous People of Idaho which reflects the rich and diverse history of the state. This culminating unit will enable students to understand how all people, including notable figures, are influenced by the environment in which they live and work.
4.SS.4.1.1: Identify the people and groups who make, apply, and enforce laws within state, local, and tribal governments.
4.SS.4.3.1: Name elected state officials.
4.SS.4.3.2: Explain ways to contact elected state officials.
Boise District 413.28: Explain the democratic process in Idaho.
Boise District 413.44: Identify significant Idaho leaders and their contributions.
- A smart board, projector, or other type of screen to project the resources to the class
- Campaign poster: Grover Cleveland
- Campaign poster: Zachary Taylor
- Campaign poster: James Garfield
- Campaign poster: Abraham Lincoln
- Campaign poster: Barack Obama
- Poster board
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- Elected Officials from Official Website of the Idaho Legislature
- Tell students that there are various types of governments and that our United States of America operates as a representative democracy. This means that our laws and regulations are written and passed not by a king or a dictator, but by our elected officials. They are elected because we vote them into office. Our government is comprised of local officials on the local level in our towns and counties, at the state level, and at the federal level. Once you are a legal adult of 18 years old, you can go and vote during elections to help choose who is going to represent you in government.
- Explain to students that these elected officials campaign, or travel around to their districts (the people they represent) to convince people to vote for them. These politicians do so by communicating and advertising what their platform is, or what their stance is on certain topics. The government is responsible for taking care of a lot of issues (education, healthcare, foreign policy, etc), and people have different opinions on the correct ways to address these issues. So, ideally, when you go and vote on Election Day, you vote for the elected official whose platform you agree with—which, again you learn about during their campaign.
- Tell students they will be looking at various campaign posters for past United States presidents. Most are from the distant past, but there is one from not very long ago.
- Project all posters for the students at once. If this can’t be done, print them out and hang them up in the classroom. Have students compare and contrast the different posters. Help them understand what some of the words mean. What do they all have in common? What are the differences among them? What are the most important things that a candidate would want to include on a campaign poster?
- Based on the candidates’ posters, discuss with students the kind of issues that the candidates wanted the people think about when deciding for whom to vote: protection of our country’s freedom (liberty), education, taxes, and services provided by the country or the state. Discuss the use of a campaign poster or using social media today if you are running for office. What should it say?
- To conclude the lesson, have students imagine they are running for Class President. Have them each create a poster that addresses the kind of issues that they think would be important to their fellow students when deciding for whom to vote.
- Project the elected officials link from Official Website of the Idaho Legislature. At the Home page, click on “Who’s My Legislator?” and follow the prompts to learn who your local United States Congressman or United States Senator is and information about their contributions in their leadership roles.