Friday, November 2, 2012

Get Out the Vote

The Girl has the most amazing teacher this year. She is young and energetic and fabulous in every way except one. Her birthday is tomorrow. My birthday was two days ago and Mom's birthday is Sunday. Later this month we have the Girl's birthday and the Baby's birthday. Makes you wonder what was in the water in February and March (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Shaking off my birthday fatigue, I put together a basket for her from the class:

Pretty cute if you're not into symmetry, which apparently I am not. If you'll notice there are handles on the sides of the bucket and the bow is way closer to one handle than the other. Also, the bow itself is a bit wonky. It's like I get *this* close to making something really good and then, wah, wah, wah, it's not to be. Also, I think you can see my legs reflected in the bucket. Although it looks like I am midway through some sort of Charleston move, I can assure you that I was not dancing while snapping the photo. It takes all my concentration to take a photo this bad. Despite the less than professional presentation, I hope that she enjoys the contents of the gift basket. Starbucks gift card (what's not to like about a pumpkin latte other than they are 320 calories a pop?), bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate (my favorite), gift certificate to Jazmin Spa, and a gorgeous silk scarf that another student's mom picked up on a recent trip to China.

This week also marked the date of the class's learning celebrations (we aren't allowed to say "party" anymore) and guess who was in charge? That's right, yours truly. Instead of a blog, this really might just be a daily record of my nervous breakdown. If it gets too bad, I hope y'all will stage an intervention. The Girl's class has been studying American government so I decided we should have an election-themed learning celebration.  Since they've been studying the difference between direct and representative democracy, we had a little mock election in which we voted once as you would in a direct democracy and once as a representative democracy. Mo Rocco did a similar exercise in a segment on Sunday Morning. (As an aside, did y'all know that former Sunday Morning anchor, Charles Kuralt had a secret family? It's always the ones you'd least suspect.)

Instead of voting for the actual candidates, which we thought would be too controversial, we opted to have the kids vote for their favorite candy between sour gummy bears and Skittles. First we had the kids vote and we counted up the total number of votes for each candy-date (ha, ha). It was looking good for team sour gummy bears, which led by a 2-1 margin. Then, they broke into tables and filled out ballots to vote again, as a table for their favorite. I made the ballots:

Each table selected an elector to announce the majority vote at the table. Again, the sour gummy bears took it, with four tables in camp sour gummy bear, versus only one table for Skittles. In the Sunday Morning clip it works out that the election results are different under the direct democratic vote then they are under the representative vote. Our results were the same, but I just explained that that's the way it usually works out in the United States. It would have been more illustrative if the results differed, but I wasn't about to gerrymander the tables to accomplish that.

As a reward for doing their civic duty, the kids got stickers:

And snacks:

Perhaps the milk chocolate and white chocolate dipped pretzels were a bad choice on my part. There were several comments that if you picked the white chocolate, you were for Romney and if you picked the milk, you were for Obama. Oh, kids! They do say the darndest things! They also, of course, got to eat the candy-dates, which made the election better than any one in which I've participated. I realize that makes me sound like a cannibal, which I am not. The "recipe" for the pretzels is really like microwave some chocolate chips and dip the pretzels in the chocolate and dip it in the sprinkles. Not much to it, but if you're paranoid that you'd screw it up somehow, here's the recipe. It's from the Lady Paula Deen and it doesn't even involve butter!

We finished up with an election-themed word search that I printed off some website as an afterthought:

If I were to do this again, I would have a couple of different voting choices. The entire activity took about 15 minutes (not including the snack) and it would have been nice to stretch it out a bit longer. So, maybe start with markers and colored pencils and then hit them with the candy as a bonus. I scoured the Internet and Pinterest for a lesson plan that had an interesting activity for the election and honestly, I didn't find anything that wouldn't have forced me to basically teach the students a class on election law. That wasn't happening, so this turned out to be a good compromise, a little bit didactic, a little bit fun. (Wasn't that a Donnie and Marie song?) Speaking of teaching and lesson plans, my friend Shannon has started a blog called Tags 4 Teachers to help teachers find lesson plans and activities. Check it out teachers and room mom-types! Have a great weekend and keep on keeping on brave New Yorkers and Jerseyites. We're thinking about you!


  1. Where do you find the time for all of these crafty projects? You're making the rest of us moms look bad.

    1. I haven't slept in weeks, which is why I've totally lost my voice this morning. Have you all done your school learning celebration yet? I saw this come across my reader this morning: The drink would be a kind of cool thing to make in school, especially since it sort of involves science.