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Lesson Plan: For Teachers: What Is an Election?

Social Studies, Political Science
4 to 6 lessons
To undertake the process of conducting a federal election in Canada.
Students organize and conduct an election campaign, culminating in an in-class vote.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring


Brainstorm with students what is involved in an election in Canada. Use a mind-map to generate a list of terms and concepts associated with the electoral process in Canada at different levels of government. Ask students to explain as many of the terms as they are able to define.

Explain to students that they will be conducting an in-class election campaign. The class will represent one federal riding or constituency, and the activity will begin with the nomination of candidates and culminate in a vote. Help students better understand differing opinions on political issues by having them collect articles, photos, or other information from a variety of news sources. They can compare and contrast the different positions that various parties take on issues.

Outline the Opportunity

You can follow these suggestions for completing this activity, modifying them as necessary to suit the needs of your classroom.

As a class, discuss and determine the major issues that face their "riding," whether global, local, or school-based. These will be the issues for the class campaign. Compile a voters' list of all class members.

Have students form groups to represent political parties, either existing ones or ones that students create. There should be at least three parties in the class. Each party will form a position on the main issues. Each party's members meet to nominate one person from the group as its candidate in the election. The other members can be part of the campaign team. Each party designs promotional materials highlighting its candidate and policies and displays or distributes the materials.

Hold an election meeting or candidates' debate to have the candidates discuss the main issues. Other class members can take the role of media covering the campaign and posing questions.

Prepare ballots that include each candidate's name and party affiliation. Set a voting day, and on that day have the students (and any others invited to take part in the process) cast their ballots. Tabulate the results and announce them.

Revisit and Reflect

Following the vote, analyze the results as a class. Was there anything surprising about the results? What campaign strengths led to successes and failures?

Debrief the election by inviting students to share their views regarding what they learned about elections and the political process, and any other relevant responses they might wish to provide.


Students can present an oral or written reaction statement to the activity describing how they think their in-class election compares to a federal election campaign.

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