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      To Vote or Not to Vote? That Is the Question!

      3, 4, 5

      This lesson looks at the three amendments to the Constitution that extended voting rights to more citizens. Youth discuss the effectiveness and purpose of voting, and they take action to make a difference, such as making colorful posters reminding adults to vote or raising awareness of the history of voting rights. 

      Lesson Rating 
      PrintOne Thirty-Minute Class Period

      The learner will:

      • describe how voting rights were extended with the addition of three amendments to the Constitution.
      • analyze the importance voting plays in a healthy democracy.
      • encourage voter participation.
      • copies of handout: Voting Amendments to the Constitution (Spanish version available)
      • Tagboard (12” x 18”) for each poster
      • art supplies
      • copies of handout: Unit Quiz (Spanish version available)


      1. Anticipatory Set:

        Model the election process briefly by taking an opinion vote on something that doesn't have a clear right/wrong answer. For example, hold a vote on whether school hours should be 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with no recess, or 8:10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a recess. Have people speak about the pros and cons of each for a few minutes. Set up a system for the group members to cast their votes in ballot boxes marked with the two options. Volunteers collect, tabulate, and announce the results to the group.

      2. Discuss the voting procedure and what the results indicate. Talk about elements of the process that worked or could have improved the process. Highlight connections between their observations and local/national elections.

      3. Distribute Voting Amendments to the Constitution (handout), read the three amendments that deal with voting and discuss their meanings. Analyze the importance of the right to vote, its connection and importance in supporting the principles of the Constitution, and developing a healthy democracy.

        • Deeply embedded in our democratic process is the belief that every citizen has a vote, equal rights, and a responsibility to participate in the process of making the nation better for all. Remind the youth that their voice matters too. Although they are not voting age, they can support the Constitution by staying informed, listening to others' points of view, and encouraging their family and community to exercise their right to vote.
        • It would be meaningful to ask a representative of the local or county government to speak to the class about current issues, their career, or the voting process.
        • Brainstorm ideas for raising awareness of what the Constitution and Bill of Rights says about voting. Ask youth to examine what needs are, such as lack of participation, inequity, or lack of knowledge about issues/candidates. 
      4. One idea is that they create posters to remind citizens of the importance of voting and how hard we fought for it. They may also remind neighbors of the voting date, voting location, and importance of casting their vote.

        Working individually or in teams, youth create colorful, attention-drawing, but clear, posters. When completed, share their posters by displaying them in a manner that is appropriate and visible to others. With adult supervision, young people may distribute posters throughout the community in key locations.

      5. Children display mastery of key philanthropic concepts and voting knowledge through a Unit Quiz. See handout below.

      Cross Curriculum 

      Students will create colorful posters that will encourage citizens in their community to “get out” and vote. They will then distribute them in key locations where they will be visible to potential voters.

      Philanthropy Framework

      1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
        1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
          1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
        1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
          1. Benchmark E.14 Describe the roles of citizens in government.
      3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
        1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
          1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
      4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
        1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
          1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
        2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
          1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
        3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
          1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.