Are your students aware of the 2014 General Elections and what it means to vote in a democracy? Bring in a bit of the election-mania into your library through our 5 easy-to-implement ideas.
1. Read-Aloud Elections (Grades 1-2)
Get into the spirit of democracy by allowing your students to vote on which books they want you to read-aloud at the end of the week. Share two or three books with the children by reading them the titles and authors, showing them the cover pages, and reading the back blurbs. If any of the students have strong opinions about a particular book, ask them to come in front of the class and “campaign” for it by talking about why others should vote for the book. Keep the books on display all week, and an empty ‘ballot’ box nearby with chits of paper and pencils. Students must vote at any point during the week. At the end of the week (or at your next library session), tally up all the votes and share the winner. The winning book will be read aloud!
2. Letter to the Prime Minister (Grades 3-5)
Election results are about to be announced! While some of your students will be happy with the outcome, others may not support the winning party. Because we live in a democracy with freedom of speech, citizens are allowed to speak in favor of or against their government. Once the Prime Minister is officially revealed, ask students to write him/her a letter, in which they can share their thoughts about how to improve India during his/her time in office! Older children can address very specific issues and make suggestions on how to fix them (i.e. Education, Health, Economy, Social Equality, etc.). Younger children can focus their letters on the simpler concept of “If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…” Teach your students how to put their letter in the proper format by giving them an example.
3. Clicks From the Election (Grades 3-5)
Ask children to scan recent newspapers and magazines which have covered the voting process across India. Tell them to bring one photograph -along with the caption – of the voting process that they really like from any newspaper/ magazine that they get at home. Collect all the photographs (with captions) and paste them in a blank notebook. There you go, your class has their own visual record of the 2014 General Elections. Ask them for an appropriate title for the book and add it to your collection of books in the library.
4. Take a Stand! (Grades 6 & above)
Write the following terms on four different posters (one on each): Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree. Hang each poster in a different corner of the library before class. During your library session, talk to students about the importance of sharing opinions, discussion and debate in a democracy and tell them today they are going to get a chance to do all of those things. Then read a statement out loud, and tell students to go to the corner of the room that best describes how they feel about that statement. Here are some examples of statements:
- People should be fined for littering in public spaces.
- Political parties that promote a certain religious faith must be banned.
- Schools should not have uniforms.
Students within each of the four groups can take the next 5 minutes to discuss why they feel that way about the statement. Each group can then nominate one student as a ‘Spokesperson’ who will share their thoughts with the rest of the class. Once all ideas have been shared, read another statement and repeat the exercise. Take this activity further by allowing students to politely challenge what other groups say during the sharing portion. Hopefully this will lead to some exciting debates!
5. Library Party Politics (Grades 6 & Above)
Tell students that political parties consist of groups of people that have similar views about how a government should run. Each political party has its own name, symbol, and set of beliefs, which are all linked. Ask students to name as many political parties as they can think of in India. Discuss what their symbols are and why those were selected. For example, Indian National Congress (known as the Congress party) has a symbol of a palm-facing hand with its fingers pressed together in front of an India flag. It is meant to stand for strength, energy and unity. The Congress party believes it puts energy and effort into working with the masses (it is the largest political party in the country) to unite a diverse India, which is why they chose their symbol [see http://www.elections.in/political-parties-in-india/ for more information about Indian political parties and their symbols].
Once you share some examples of political parties, symbols and beliefs, tell students that today they are going to start their own library political parties. Organize students in groups of four and provide each group with poster board and colored pencils/markers. Each group must first list 3 beliefs they have about the library OR things about the library they would like to change. Once they decide on at least 3, they must then pick a name. Finally, they will create a symbol for their political party. Ask them to try to tie their name and symbol to the beliefs of their party. Before the end of the session, students should write the party name and beliefs on their posters, as well as draw their symbol. Display the political party posters around the library. Hopefully they will give you some good ideas for how to improve the library space!
Book Recommendation for Election Theme: We, The Children of India: The Preamble to Our Constitution by Leila Seth; the image used for this blog post is from the same book and has been illustrated by Bindia Thapar.