Posted by: Christine Johnson | January 6, 2008

Election Unit: Primaries

Well, election season is officially underway. And with that, we have officially started teaching the girls about how our political system works.

I started out discussing the conventions and delegates, which helped them understand what our primaries are for. Then we talked a bit about primaries (though I still don’t completely “get” caucuses, but I suppose I will eventually and then I can explain the differences), and talked about which states were having them first. Iowa, of course, was first, and then yesterday Wyoming had their Republican primary. (Did you know that? I didn’t even know until today that some states split up their primaries. And Hawaii isn’t even having one for the GOP. They are having “discussions” and will then have some kind of informal vote or something in the first week of February. Weird, huh?)

Today, I made a chart for the girls and I to keep track of the results of the primaries. It has four columns: date, state, and top three candidates for each party. I organized it by date, and if the primaries were split, I wrote the state in at the slot designated for its first primary. (I got the by-date listing at this site.)

I will also have a chart of the candidates for each party (the major runners), where we will keep track of who drops out of the race. Already, I’m behind! Dodd and Biden have dropped out, and now I won’t have their pictures on my chart. (I’m getting the major candidates chart information from this site, which has a lot of resources for the unit.)
As we go along, we’ll also be checking out the candidates’ views on issues ranging from immigration and taxes and education (especially how each candidate views homeschoolers) to the war and abortion and other issues related to the Culture of Life. We’ll look at them first and foremost as Catholics. I plan on using our Catechism to help the girls see what the Church teaches about each of the issues. I will probably learn a lot in this part of the unit.
When election night comes, though, we’ll be filling in our own little maps as the night progresses. I found some maps for teachers here, and the numbers for the electoral college seem to be correct. (2008 electoral votes are to be found here, in case you wanted to double-check it.) We are going to let the girls stay up as late as we can so they can fill in their charts as the night progresses. This is where they see how the process actually works, as opposed to the way it is supposed to work. Hopefully, they won’t be disappointed. I think it might also be interesting to ask them about how they feel about when the media decides to call a race based upon what percentage of the votes are reported in a given state.
I’ll try to keep this blog updated as to what we do at each stage of the election process.

Christine


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