For Preschoolers, voting can be about more than the democratic process! And while that’s important, think of all the numeracy and literacy connections that abound when preschoolers “vote”. Let’s get started!
- Vote for class pet: A fish, gerbil, or hamster? Cut out pet animal shapes (that you find acceptable) out of heavy paper. Give each child a clothespin to attach to their fish shape. Graph the results! After the pet arrives…Discuss Pet names and then vote between the favorite names.
- Vote for class party treat: popcorn or pizza?
- You hear children talking about the construction going on next door and one little boy exclaims how he loves the big dirt shovel. Another child joins in and states that he’d like to study machines. At meeting time, you might relay what you heard and offer children an opportunity to study big machines or continue your current study. You decide to take a poll by offering yellow and red craft sticks. Children select a yellow stick for big machines or a red one to continue studying fish.
- Children vote for the new study topic but some materials may be needed. Have children/families volunteer to contribute with found/gathered materials. Volunteering and contributing to the larger group are great ways to spread democratic principles.
- Take a poll for places that children would like to visit for their class field trip.
- What’s your favorite lunch or snack foods? Take a poll and share it with the cook. Are there foods that you like to eat at home that you don’t get at school? What are they? Make a list of those foods. Allow children to vote for their top 2 to share with the cook.
- Decide on classroom rules together as a group. We all appreciate laws or rules when we understand them or agree with them. You can facilitate a great discussion about “what are ways we can keep ourselves and others safe” in our classroom. You can also help them formulate the rules into positive statements. For example, a child might say, “no hitting” is a good rule. That’s a great rule, so how do you want your friends to touch you? Or why do you think our friends hit? So, what is something we can do instead of hit? How about if our “no hitting” rule is “Use Your Words”? Who all thinks this is a good rule? If you think this is a good rule, raise your hand. If you don’t think this is a good rule for our class, put your hands on your hips.
- There are many things you can use in the classroom as voting tokens: stack lego blocks, clip on clothespins, craft sticks, post-it notes, counting bears, chain links….
So, you get the point: There are many things that you can vote on. Allow children to learn about voting about things that are meaningful to them. While not everyone’s opinion or preference “wins” all the time, it’s also important to understand that “the group decided” and children learn that everyone’s vote matters. Just like in the adult world.
We can do a lot with young children to develop democratic principles: Voting is one way to promote functioning as a group. Please share your ideas for preschool voting! I’d love to hear your ideas! Next, I’ll be moving to another Democratic principle: respecting the rights and opinions of others. See you at the next posting!