A fourth grade fictional character election was every bit as exciting — and hard fought — as the presidential race.
On November 3, Convent fourth graders held an election of their own, working together to nominate candidates, campaign on their behalf and vote. The catch: The candidates, Matilda and Karana, are fictional characters from books.
The entire grade started by brainstorming characters from books and movies who students thought would make an effective president of the United States. Teachers then divided students into groups to nominate candidates. Corinne Corrigan, the lead teacher for one section of fourth grade girls, says she encouraged a spirited debate. A primary election narrowed the field to two candidates — Matilda from the Roald Dahl book of the same name and Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins. Princess Leia and Percy Jackson were among the candidates who didn’t make the cut.
That’s when the campaigning began in earnest. Students decided on platforms for each candidate and made campaign materials. Some designed posters and hung them around school while others created commercials and videos in which Matilda and Karana were interviewed. On Election Day, Corinne sent out a digital ballot to all K–8 teachers, many of whom screened the campaign videos and tallied votes.
Luckily, vote counting was quick and Matilda won the election with 59.2 percent of the popular vote and 77 percent of the electoral college. Votes were organized by region to mirror the Electoral College system.
“This is the first time I've taught this unit, and much of it came from the direction the girls took it,” Corinne says of the energy and excitement her students had for the mock election. “They took it much farther than I expected.”
Building on the election’s success, Corrinne plans to incorporate it into a Social Studies unit every year. The project, she says, is a “great way for children to learn how elections work.”