Every year, I ask my 8th grade students, "What is the Electoral College?" By this point of their lives they've heard something about it, but when I ask them if anyone can explain it, rarely does an answer emerge. I'll hear things like, "I know there is an electoral college map," or, "I know there are electoral votes," which is good knowing that they've got some background knowledge floating around.
This Electoral College activity for middle school Social Studies is a hit! Even my most reluctant learners who rarely want to participate in anything take part in the activity. In fact, in 20 years of teaching, I’ve never had a student NOT participate! Click HERE to go directly to this resource in my TpT store.
I have recently updated this Electoral College activity to include a 46-slide PowerPoint that details the Electoral College.
Included in the PPT is information regarding what would happen if there were a tie, how Congress could get involved, fun facts about the Electoral College, and a look at the results of the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 elections.
There is also a fully-editable student notes sheet that goes along with the PPT available in color or black and white as seen below.
The absolute best part of all of this is the activity that follows! Students are paired up to compete for the presidency using dice, an Electoral College map, colored pencils, and good old-fashioned luck to win the Popular Votes to get the Electoral Votes. My favorite part of this Electoral College activity is that my middle school students are having fun and learning at the same time!
This PowerPoint, notes, and Electoral College activity take about 90 minutes if you want your students to go through every state and then add up their results to see if one candidate won the Popular Vote, but lost the Electoral Vote. Or, you can just have them call the election once one candidate reaches 270 Electoral Votes.
I’ve never experienced a tie yet, but that would be so much fun to have the class become Congress!!
You can have a lot of fun with this as the teacher during the activity by announcing when it is time to roll for California, Texas, Florida, or any other states with larger amounts of Electoral Votes.
Or, as an example, a few minutes after New York has been rolled for, you can announce, “Candidates, we just got word that there are 10 faithless electors from New York who have announced they will be casting their votes for the candidate who just lost New York’s Popular Vote. You’ll need to make an adjustment to your tally sheet.”
The cheers of delight and moans of disappointment will fill your classroom!!
I wrap up the Electoral College activity by taking photos of the victors holding the Presidential Seal (included in the resource), and the defeated posing with disappointment to make a bulletin board outside of my classroom.
Then, students write a reflection based on whether or not the Electoral College is a system we should still be using to elect a Commander in Chief (see below).
This has been one of my all-time favorite activities to do with my middle school students so I hope you experience the same excitement in your classroom, too.
Matt @ Surviving Social Studies