Once every four years, those of us in the United States get a wonderful opportunity for teaching our kids a little about how our government works. In 2016, I created my first presidential election lap book. Over the past few weeks, several people inquired about whether or not I would be updating my lap book for the 2020 election. It took me a little longer than I anticipated, but it is now ready and freely available.
While I definitely have strong opinions and views on politics, I have done my best to make this lap book as neutral and nonpartisan as possible. I believe that the best future is one in which all sides can communicate openly and respectfully with one another and try to understand each other’s point of view.
That being said, while I tried to create this lap book as accurately as possible, there may be finer points of certain political parties which I am not as familiar with. If you believe I got anything wrong regarding any of the four candidates positions on certain issues, please let me know. I am always learning.
For those that have older kids vs. younger kids, there are two versions of this lapbook. One version I call the “minimal writing” version. It is the one I use with my own kids. Anything that could be pre-filled out, I typed in already. There is still some writing, like the page that asks who the child would vote for. However, it is not as overwhelming for new writers.
The other version leaves a lot more blank, so older kids can research the answers. They will need to look up the duties of the president and vice president and the dates of the debates, election, and inauguration. They will need to find the number of electoral voters per state. The biggest undertaking is the chart in which kids will need to decide which issues are important to them and then research the different candidates’ positions on those issues.
Of course, there is always the option to mix and match. Some kids might benefit from looking up some answers, while having others already filled in for them.
Both versions of the lap book have a map for the child to color as the results come in. There is also a final tally page where they can keep track of the number of electoral votes awarded for each candidate. This way they can watch real time who is winning the race to 270 electoral votes and the presidency.
If you are using this lap book with elementary-aged kids or younger, there are two picture books that I recommend trying to get from your library. Our family really enjoyed Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio. Not only is it a charming story, it does a fantastic job of introducing kids to concepts such as the electoral college and swing states.
We also read Duck for President by Doreen Cronin. This book targets a slightly younger audience. All my kids liked it, including my preschooler, though my 10 year old did not really learn anything new. It is great for explaining what an election is and illustrating the difference between local vs. national politics.
- Paper for printing 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Lap Book. (Note that if you are doing the “minimal writing” version of the lap book, you will want to print pages 1-13. If you are doing the blank version, you will want pages 1-7 and 14-19.)
- manila file folder (personally, I like the straight cut version for lap books, but any will work equally well.)
- 4 pieces of cardstock
Supplies & Tools
- First, print out the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Lap Book. If you would like to create the “minimal writing” version of the lap book, you will want to print pages 1-13. If you would rather create the blank version, print pages 1-7 and 14-19.
- Cut out all the pieces.
- Make your election vocabulary booklets and staple them together. You have some options. My personal preference is to put the picture on top, then the definition (which I call the clue), and then the vocabulary word on the bottom. That way kids can test themselves to see if they can figure out what the word is using the picture and definition. Another option would be to put the word on top, then the picture and definition underneath.
- Fold the shorter side of your manila file folder inward to meet the middle, as shown.
- Fold the longer side of the manila file folder in to meet the middle as well. I chose to overlap them slightly, but that is up to you.
- Tape a piece of cardstock to the top of the lap book. Remember to tape it from behind when it is folded down so it can open and close easily.
- Tape a sheet of cardstock to the bottom of lapbook. Again, remember to tape it when it is folded inside the lap book.
- Tape a second piece of cardstock to the right of the piece of cardstock at the top of the lap book.
- Cut your last piece of cardstock in half. I used a paper cutter, but you could also just fold it in half and use scissors.
- Tape one of the half sheets of cardstock onto the left of the sheet of cardstock on top.
When you are finished attaching the cardstock, it should look like this:
- Place the cover page on top of the file folder and center it.
- Without moving the page, bring forward whichever side of the file folder will be on top. I chose to bring the shorter side forward, but it doesn’t really matter. Use a pencil to mark the edge of the side. This is where you will cut.
- Cut along the pencil marking.|
- Glue the cover pieces onto the front of the lapbook.
- When you open the election lap book, glue the President and Vice President duties on either side. Remember that there are two versions of these sheets – one filled in and one blank. Choose the one that is more appropriate for your child.
- Glue the Political Parties label and cards onto the piece of cardstock on top, when it is folded down, as shown.
- When you lift up the political parties, glue the presidential candidates on the bottom sheet of cardstock which is still folded up. Be sure to match the candidates to the political parties that were on the top sheet.
- On the half sheet of cardstock directly above the presidential candidates, before it is opened up, glue in the important dates. Note that there are two versions of this page with the dates blank and filled in.
- On the full piece of cardstock directly above the presidential candidates, before it is opened up, glue in the election vocabulary.
- In the area after you unfold the top pieces of card stock, glue the important issues onto the 2 and half page spread. You can choose to either use the pre-filled-in issues pages or the blank version.
- When you fold down the presidential candidates, glue the electoral map onto the middle section of the manila file folder and the final tally onto the very bottom piece of cardstock. Note that there are two versions of these pages as well.
Your 2020 United States presidential election lap book is now ready to use. Have fun taking advantage of this once-in-four-years learning opportunity!
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