ARTSEDGE Lessons for Elementary School

Who Can Vote for President?

Learn about the role and historical importance of having the right to vote in U.S. elections


Key Staff

This lesson will be straightforward for the social studies or US history teacher to use in the classroom. It may be helpful if a computer graphics or art teacher works cooperatively for this lesson

Key Skills

Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture
Creative Thinking: Creativity and Innovation


In this lesson, students will learn general facts about the voting process and its importance in a democratic form of government. They will research and locate information on the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments that altered voting rights throughout U.S. History. They will become familiar with the importance of voter registration and voting rights while understanding the role government plays in a student’s daily life. They will produce a plan of action, boosting awareness of voter participation and create a computer graphic campaign poster to encourage voter participation and voting awareness.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Learn general facts about voting process, and its importance in a democratic form of government
  • Organize facts and create timelines that demonstrate historical voting rights
  • Identify how the government plays a role in a student’s daily life
  • Design a plan of action to boost awareness of voter registration and voter participation
  • Create a poster using computer graphic design that effectively communicates the encouragement of voter participation and voting awareness

Teaching Approach

Arts Inclusion

Teaching Methods

  • Discovery Learning
  • Research
  • Hands-On Learning
  • Reflection

Assessment Type

Informal Assessment


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Classroom
  • Internet Access
  • Printer
  • Interactive Whiteboard
Technology Notes

This lesson will require a good quality color printer. Determine if one will be available at the end of the lesson or make alternative arrangements for printing the completed posters.

Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

For guidelines and tips on leading a class art critique, refer to the ARTSEDGE How-To articles Art Critiques Made Easy and Teaching Students to Critique.

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should:

  • Basic computer skills
  • Basic research skills
  • Basic vocabulary and knowledge of U.S. Constitution.
    If student requires a refresher, visit the links: Constitution or Ben's Guide: Constitution

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Computer Lab
  • Visual Arts Studio


Small Group Instruction


Have research resources available to students.

Have a copy of the U.S. Constitution in large format or provide a link to a website that has a copy. The U.S. National Archives has an excellent example: Constitution

Have at least one computer available for every small group of students. Each computer should have graphic design software installed.

Accessibility Notes

Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Build Knowledge


1. Warm Up. Ask the students if they have ever wondered how the U.S. president is elected? Do they know who is eligible to vote for a U.S. president? Do they know that throughout history those eligibilities have changed?

2. Discuss the questions and have students share their knowledge. Use the Critical Thinking: Who is Eligible to Vote worksheet located within the Resource Carousel, completing the first two columns. This can be displayed on an interactive whiteboard for ease of viewing. Explain that the right to vote is a privilege and is an important element of a democratic government. Also mention that compared to voter participation rates of citizens in other democracies, participation in U.S. elections is low.

Build Knowledge

Get the students started on the Who can Vote for President activity by having them brush-up on research skills.

1. Ask students to use the worksheet, Questions on Voter Eligibility, which can be found in the Resource Carousel, and answer questions through the use of recall in the earlier class discussions. They should be given ample time to complete the assignment. Allow students to visit the LBJ Kids-Voting Rights Timeline to use as a reference. Provide a copy of the U.S. Constitution and introduce the students to the basic rights they are granted in the U.S.

2. Have students pair up with a partner. Students will discuss with their partner why they believe people choose not to vote and they will write their ideas and observations in a list to be shared with the class using the interactive whiteboard. Then ask students to think of ideas that will encourage an increased voter turnout on Election Day. Each team should keep the list of ideas to be shared later with the class and displayed on the interactive whiteboard.

3. Ask each pair to conduct research on who is eligible to vote in the U.S. Each team member will select at least two sources to locate specific facts about voting and the democratic process. Then both partners will read and take notes from the sources used. Partners should share information with one another, but each partner will submit an individual project.

4. Display sources and voting facts on interactive whiteboard. Display of the sources and voting facts that each partnership has discovered can be shared with the class for future knowledge or classroom discussions.


1. Guide students in developing a timeline. When the worksheets are completed, guide students in developing a timeline that provides them with historical references and factual information on how voting and voting rights have changed over history. They may create the timeline on a computer or draw it on a sheet of paper.

When working on the timeline, have students visit Inside the Voting Booth developed by the PBS Democracy Project. Students can use information from this site in their timeline. Another link is located at the US Library of Congress: Votes for Women

2. Discuss the right to vote versus the choice to vote. Ask students if they think all people eligible to vote should vote. Why or why not? Have students discuss with a partner why they think people choose not to vote and write these ideas in a list to be shared with the class. Then ask students to think of ideas that will encourage more people to vote on Election Day. Have each team keep a list of ideas to be shared with the class.

Allow enough time for students to arrive at several thoughtful ideas and theories. Have each team choose a favorite theme or method that they believe will increase voter participation.

3. Explain that individuals who participate in the election process are exercising the rights they are granted in the U.S. Constitution. Voting is fundamental to the constitutional democracy in the U.S. If students understand the importance of voting as a form of positive political participation, they can better understand why those who are eligible to vote should vote.

4. Explain or review the principles of design and elements of art. Provide copies of the Vocabulary handout, available to you within the Resource Carousel. Using the Principles of Design and Elements of Art handout, available to you within the Resource Carousel, review and discuss the terms with the students, showing examples whenever possible. Have students prepare and assemble the materials they will need to make the sketches of their posters.

5. Have students create and illustrate a poster. Using the Computer Graphics software at each computer station, have students create a poster that will encourage people to vote. The poster should illustrate the theme or method that the student selected while teamed with their partner.


1. Have students share their posters and display them around the classroom. Assist in guiding the students through a critique of the posters. Discuss how good graphic design and stimulating color schemes can make a positive impact on an individual's choice. Consider what makes some posters more visually stimulating than others. Assess the posters from two perspectives: the impact of getting people to vote and the artistic composition. After the posters are displayed, ask students to list all the different ideas and strategies for increasing voter participation that were illustrated. Are students able to look at the posters and understand what theme or method for increasing voter participation was used?

2. Guide the students through a critique of the posters. Discuss how good graphic design and stimulating color schemes can make a positive impact on an individual's choice. Consider what makes some posters more visually stimulating than others. Assess the posters from two perspectives: the impact of persuading people to vote and the artistic composition.

You can find guidelines and tips on leading a class art critique in the ARTSEDGE How-To articles Art Critiques Made Easy and Teaching Students to Critique.

3. Conclude the lesson by assessing students’ responses on the original worksheet. Return to the Critical Thinking handout used at the beginning of the lesson. Look at the first column. Was the students' prior knowledge accurate? If necessary, correct any inaccurate information. Then, look at the second column and ask students how they used research and analysis skills in an effective way. Finally, have students complete the third column of the chart, using small group and class discussion to evaluate their posters and their learning process.


Use the Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel to assess the following:

  • Each student plays an important role in encouraging those who are eligible to vote.
  • Students participate in partner discussion and research.
  • Students develop effective communication skills through the use of graphic design skills.

Extending the Learning

Suggest that students volunteer to visit and work at an election campaign office during a local, state or national election.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
Visual Art

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

National Standards in Other Subjects



Rebecca Holden
Original Author

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Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



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