Electoral College System


The lesson introduces students to the process used to elect the President of the United States, the Electoral College.  Many people, including young students, are unclear about the process involved in electing the president.  They may realize it is not based on the popular vote, but are unclear as to the details about the Electoral College.  The lesson may be used in conjunction with lessons related to the President, voting, or other similar topics.

Electoral College System Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about the Electoral College System
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 5-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson gives your students the information they need to understand the process used to elect the President of the United States. While it is generally known that the president is not elected by popular vote, many people, especially young students, are unclear on the details relating to the Electoral College.  This lesson includes a practical activity in which students vote on paint colors to give them a “real life” example of how the Electoral College process works.  The lesson also contains an Activity page in which students review the names and abbreviations for states, along with each state’s population. The lesson can be used in conjunction with lessons related to the President, voting, or other similar topics.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:   

  1. Split the class into 5 groups, odd numbers of students in each group. Mix up the “population” of each group (9, 3, 3, 5, 7).  Name each group using the name of a state.
  2. Distribute a slip of paper to each student. Tell students the room will be painted a new color, and they can vote for one of two color choices.
  3. Privately, students vote for one of the colors. Collect the slips of paper, keeping each “state” separate.
  4. Tally the votes using the Electoral College System (do not reveal the system). The new color will have “won” 3 states regardless of the popular vote.  Announce the results.
  5. Ask students if this voting system reminds them of anything.
  6. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce the Electoral College System.
  7. Distribute Electoral College System content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  8. Distribute Activity pages. Read and review the instructions.  The activity helps students learn the locations of states, abbreviations for states, as well as the populous states.  Discuss this with the class.
  9. Once students have completed the activity, review and discuss the questions and responses.
  10. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.

Common Core State Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources: 

Many more teaching resources in Download!

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Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies