My Community and Other United States Communities
Unit 1 Guided Reading Suggestions Unit 1 Glossary Lesson 5:  Holidays Lesson 4:  Paying Taxes Lesson 3:  It's Your Right to Vote Lesson 2:  Symbols All Around the United States Lesson 1 : It's Right to Follow Rules Unit 1 Overview


This lesson would be appropriate to implement around Election Day. Students will understand why citizens vote and will learn about the voting process. Students will participate in an authentic voting situation.
Suggested time allowance: 4 class periods

NOTE TO TEACHER: If students participate in a vote at every grade level, teachers might want to save the registration card from year to year and have students use the same registration card. This models the adult practice of yearly signatures on voter registration cards.

Unifying Themes: (based on the National Council for the Social Studies)

  • Civic Ideals and Practices

New York State Social Studies Framework

  • Standard 5: Civics, Citizenship, and Government
  • Key Ideas and Conceptual Understandings
    • 2.3 The United States is founded on the principles of democracy, and these principles are reflected in all types of communities.
      • 2.3c The process of holding elections and voting is an example of democracy in action in schools, communities, New York State, and the nation.
  • Social Studies Practices:
    • The Role of the Individual in Social and Political Participation
      • Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and classroom debates regardless of whether one agrees with the other viewpoint.
      • Participate in activities that focus on a classroom, school or community issue or problem.
      • Identify the Governor of New York, the President of the United States and the school principal and their leadership responsibilities.

Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy

  • RL.2.2: Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
  • RL.2.3: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
  • RL2.6: Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
  • RL2.9: Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story.
  • W.2.2: Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Unit Essential Question:

  • How do good citizens participate in their government and community?

Resources/Materials for this lesson: (Recommended books are bold)

  • Chart paper
  • Pencils
  • “Know the Facts” templates (included)
  • Ballot template (included)
  • SMART Board Activity: The Voting Process (included)
    Note to Teacher: The SMART Board Activity has a very creative way to present the Cookie Election. On the last page of the file, click on the Voting Booth to take you to a "campaign" by each of the cookie candidates!
  • Ms. K's Class Cookie. This is the site that is linked to from the SMART Board file. The students can hear the "campaign speeches" of the two cookies, learn the facts and actually register to vote online.
  • Cronin, Doreen. Duck For President. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. New York, NY: 2004 or similar book. This book is about a farm of animals with ambition. Duck is tired of doing work and chores and decides to have an election to replace Farmer Brown. This book teaches the election process in a child-friendly way.
  • "Can I Vote?" Reading A-Z. Realistic (fiction), 541 words, Level M (Grade 2) When Leo goes to the community center with his parents, he learns that they are going to vote for president and other people in government. Leo is disappointed that he isn’t old enough to vote, until he sees that there is a voting booth for kids! This story will introduce students to voting and help them get involved in the election process. District subscription required.
  • Sonnenblick, Jordan. Dodger for President. New York: Feiwel & Friends, 2009. When Dodger, the big blue chimpanzee genie, magically portrays fifth-grader Willie one day at school, Willie finds himself running for student council president.
  • Willems, Mo. Elephants Cannot Dance!  New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000. An imprint of Disney Book Group. “The elephant, Gerald, and his friend Piggie are debating over whether or not elephants can dance. Gerald tells Piggie that elephants cannot dance and for Piggie to look it up in the "Things Elephants Can Do" book. Gerald decides to try to dance anyways. He discovers that he actually can dance!” Others in the series that could be used are I Broke My Trunk, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend.
    Note: This book should be used if the teacher is opting to do Option 2 in Day 4, below.
  • Neighborhood Election Day Fun. Very Best Kids.
    In the search box at top, type in "Election Day" and you should find this activity.
    Scroll down to directions for how to make a Ballot Box.
  • KWL Chart (included)
  • "Responsibilities of the Voter” (included)
  • Student “I Voted Badge” (included)
  • Voter Registration Form” (included)
  • Parent Interview form (included)


Note to Teacher: If you have a subscription to Reading A-Z or the 14-day free trial, you can substitute Can I Vote? for Duck for President or Dodger for President and compare it to onw of them.

Day 1

1) Gather students at the meeting area.
2) Ask students if they understand what it means to vote, and if they know who can vote.
3) Display a KWL chart on voting. (included)
4) Ask students what they already know about voting and record responses under: “What we know.” Questions should include: Who is the President of the United States? Who is the Governor of New York State? Who is our Principal? Which of these offices do New Yorkers vote for?
5) Next, ask students what they would like to know about voting and record responses under: “What we want to know.”
6) Explain to the class that they will complete the third column, “What we learned” at the end of the week.
7) Read aloud the book, Duck for President, by Doreen Cronin.
8) After you read the book aloud to the students, ask them to turn and talk with a partner and identify the Author’s Purpose. What did the author want us to learn from the story?
9) The teacher will inform students that it is important for every person to vote because 1) it makes a difference in the result of an election, 2) if you don’t vote you give up your right to choose.
10) Explain that the person or issue that receives the highest amount of votes wins the election.
11) Announce to the class that they will be holding their own election in the classroom during the week.

Day 2

1) Before the next read aloud, recap Duck for President by sequencing the events (voting process) in the story using theSMART Board or chart paper.
2) Then, show the students the next possible suggested read aloud, Dodger for President and have students make predictions about the text.
3) After the read aloud, break students into pairs and give them a Venn Diagram or use a template on Kidspiration to compare and contrast the two stories, Duck for President and Dodger for President.
4) Give students about 15 minutes to compare and contrast and then fill in a Venn Diagram together on the SMART Board.
5) Wrap up by going back to the message of the importance of voting.
6) Homework for Home/School Connection: Interview your parents about voting asking the following questions: (Note to teacher: You can send home the hard copy (included) or post on class website, blog or google form.

    • Why do you think it is important to vote?
    • How do you make your decision for who you vote for?
    • How do you feel once you cast your ballot?
    • How do you feel when you hear the results of the election?

Day 3

1) Gather students at the meeting area. Give students the opportunity to share responses from parent interview.
2) Ask the class what they need to know before they vote and record responses on chart paper/SMART Board. Refer back to texts read and homework assignment for Day 2.
3) Display the “Responsibilities of the Voter”. (included) The teacher discusses each responsibility with the students or open the SMART Board file which also displays the responsibilities of the voter (page 2 of the file).
4) Discuss reasons why voters need to register. Why is important to register? Chart responses.
5) Model how to register to vote (refer back to text: Duck for President). Again, teacher can use SMART Board file (page 3) to model how to fill out the Voter Registration Form.
5) Each child will register to vote on the “Voter Registration Form.” You can use the hard copy or use the link provided in the SMART Board File (page 4 – click on the voting booth) and this will take you to a Google Site that includes a Google Form - Voting Registration Form. Once the children fill out the form online, it automatically downloads it to a Spreadsheet on your Google account and organizes the information for you.
6) Explain to the children that when you vote you “cast your ballot.” The ballot itself can be paper or on a machine. In our class we will use paper ballots.
7) Model how to fill out a ballot form and explain that who/what you are voting for will be listed on the ballot form as was seen in Duck for President.
8) Students will practice filling out the ballot form independently. Decide on two things for the class to choose between when they vote. (included)
9) After voting, review with students what was learned.

Day 4, Option 1: Cookie Election

1) Gather students at the meeting area. Tell the class that the two candidates will be the Milano and Chocolate Chip Cookie. Introduce the candidates by opening the link to the Google Site. ( Click on Candidate Campaigns. If you click the labels above the picture of the cookies, it will link you to where the cookies talk about why they make good candidates. (Gives the facts/opinions on the form)
2) Discuss with the students that it’s very important to understand the facts about each person, or in this case, cookie, before you make an informed decision on who/what to vote for.
3) Explain that today students will learn the facts about the two candidates for class cookie
4) Display the “Know the Facts” sheets for the chocolate chip cookie and the Milano cookie. (included) On the Google Site, click "Get to Know Your Candidates" and these forms are now side by side. In addition, if you click, there is a small “music video” also portraying the traits of each of the cookies.
5) Go over the facts about each cookie.
6) Pass out the ballot form to each child. (included)
7) Students will fill in the candidates’ names and choose their favorite cookie. After making a decision, children will place their ballot in the “ballot box.”
8) Give each student an “I Voted Badge” after he/she votes.
9) After each child has voted, have them reflect back to when they asked their parents about how they felt after they voted. Have students provide two feeling words to describe the experience of voting and evidence as to why they felt that way.
10) Explain to the class that the ballots will be counted that night and the winner will be announced the next morning.

Day 4, Option 2

Note: A wonderful integration with English Language Arts would be to base this lesson on a fictional read aloud that meets Common Core Reading Literature Standard RL.2.6 and merges it with social studies.

1. Read aloud the book, Elephants Cannot Dance! or another one from the marvelous series listed above, and have students discuss differences and point of view of the characters. 

2. Have students prepare a campaign for either candidate Piggie or Elephant (You might have them run for Class President) listing their good points.  Have the class vote as they would for the class cookie.  This alternative addresses the concern that cookies are not healthy foods and some students might have allergies.


We are aware of the many allergies and restrictions surrounding food in the
classroom so here are some alternatives to the cookies:
*extra recess vs. video treat
*class mascot
*class symbol

Day 5

1) Gather students at the meeting area and announce the winner for the “Class Cookie.” Discuss majority vote.
2) Once the winner is announced, have students break up into group of 4 and create a Presidential Thank You Speech to be presented before the celebration. They can create posters and use a podium to present. (Writing Rubric needs to be created and template)
Teacher may want to celebrate the victory by having a class election party. (“class cookie” and juice)
3) Place students in pairs. Each pair will write at least two facts about what they learned about the election process.
4) Share responses as a whole class activity.


  • Teacher observations
  • Student work (KWL)
  • Student responses
  • Parent Interview
  • Venn Diagram – Compare and Contrast 2 stories
  • Voter Registration Form
  • Writing Piece – Feelings/Evidence
  • Vocabulary Handbook (paper booklet/Photostory)

As the students learn each vocabulary word throughout each of the lessons for this unit, they can create a Second Grade Voting Handbook. It could be a paper booklet or you can use PowerPoint or Photostory 3 (if your school provides this program) where the students can include pictures to match the vocabulary word, in addition to voice and text to define it.

ballot the system of voting
candidate person running for a government office
decision act of reaching a conclusion or making up one's mind
election the act of choosing or deciding through a vote
informed knowing enough about something to make a decision
majority at least one more than half of a group
register to enter on an official list
responsibility task that you should do
vote to make a formal choice

Integrated Social Studies/English Language Arts Curriculum (Grade 2)
©Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum & Instructional Services
Last revised September 28, 2016