Friday, November 16, 2012

election day extravaganza

i thought that diana would be the only one of my children interested in election day activities.  boy, was i wrong!

i had started her off beforehand with some preparation, outlined here.  (i did, in fact, renew brainpop, so we had lots more to explore there.)

we also watched the schlessinger media video from the library - "election day" - which is in their holidays for kids series.

that kinda got ander's attention.   so did the signs right across the street from our house, proclaiming "vote here."  (when we moved earlier this year, our voting precinct changed.  how lucky for us we could just walk!)

he spent the day outside with his model rockets, watching people coming in and out.  individuals, couples, younger, older, parents with kids.  he decided that he did want to go vote, after all!

just as we had at our former voting precinct, there was an identical booth, lowered to accommodate their shorter stature, for kids to vote alongside their parents.  we had paper ballots and black markers; the kids had fun colored highlighter pens.

diana stood with ander, patiently reading the ballot items to him and indicating that he needed to choose one response per item.  they were quiet, attentive to each other, almost somber in their concentration on making decisions.  then, ander drew a rocket in the blank area.  perhaps he wanted to write in his own initiative regarding space travel?

they were pleased as punch to insert their ballots into the same secure box that i did.  and, of course, they got stickers!

after dinner, though, started the fun of watching the presidential election returns.  i had printed diana a blank map and asked her fill in the electoral votes for each state (and d.c.).  she also used a loose leaf sheet of paper to make two columns; one for barack obama and one for mitt romney.  the task ahead for her was to tally the electoral votes for each state for each candidate and color the states in according to the winner.

this is the part where ander really shone.  he loves the united states, all 50 of them.  he's known their names and locations since the tender age of two, and has recently learned all the capitals, too.  so when i pulled up three different news websites to look at their election result maps (msn, fox & cnn), ander was beside himself using the mouse to highlight each state and bring up the results.

he'd yell out the name of a state and who it was called for (red for romney, blue for barack) and diana would scramble to locate the state on her map (often with ander's assistance), identify the number of electoral votes, and keep a running count of electoral votes.  ander would keep his eyes glued to the maps, attentively waiting for the next state to change from blank (white) to a color, and diana would calculate the number of electoral votes needed for each candidate to win that magic number of 270.

she was amazed how quickly a trend could go from leaning heavily for one candidate towards tipping the other direction to go for the opponent, just in a matter of a state or two.  also, how the size of a state (in terms of area) was not necessarily reflected by the number of electoral votes; just comparing the amount of color on her map did not indicate the winner of the presidential race.  she started to see how important "battleground" states were and why.

we were lucky to be in the pacific time zone so that it wasn't terribly late at night for us when all the states but florida were called and we had identified the winner.  then it was time for cheering and getting ready for bed while listening to jim weiss' thomas jefferson's america and abraham lincoln and the heart of america.

all in all, it was a great election day!

a footnote: ander woke up early the next morning asking if florida had been called yet. :)  it hadn't.  :)

a resource to look to for anyone with statistical knowledge or interest: nate silver's fivethirtyeight blog.  (stats RULE!)

and, in response to diana's question about the president's cabinet, we found a resource: the president's cabinet and how it grew by nancy parker.

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