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Parties, Platforms, and Polls

In this activity, students explore election jargon in Scholastic's online election news coverage and use the jargon to create an election dictionary.

Duration: about 15 to 20 minutes per week

Objective: Students will be able to define and understand important election-related words.

Materials: Computer(s) with Internet access; Election Jargon (PDF) ; online or print dictionary

Set Up and Prepare: Preview the latest Election '08 news at Scholastic News Online. Choose one or two election-related words that appear in today's stories and write them on the board. Some words you may find include:

 debate polls
 electoral vote popular vote
 exit pollprimary election

If students do not have access to individual computers, print out the story in which you found today's election-related word. Print out and make copies of the PDF.


  1. Launch the first lesson by discussing the nature of jargon. Jargon is the special vocabulary that is used in a particular field. Baseball has jargon (homer, southpaw, etc.), as does medicine (ER, stat, resident, etc.). Point out that a campaign has its own jargon, too, and that part of being an educated citizen is learning to recognize and understand it. Explain that students are going to make a dictionary of election words over the course of the next few months.
  2. Direct students' attention to the word you have written on the board. Explain that it is a piece of election jargon, and that students are going to hunt for its meaning as they read the latest election news. In some cases (platform, landslide, ticket, etc.), the word will have an everyday meaning with which students might be familiar. Have students describe this meaning, then make predictions about what the word might mean in an election context.
  3. Distribute the PDF and explain that it is a template for a page in the students' election dictionaries.
  4. Have students read the election news story and begin working on the dictionary entry for today. They should first record the word and copy the sentence in which it appears in the story.
  5. Next, have students use a dictionary (print or online) to check the word's everyday and election-related meanings. They should record these meanings on the PDF and add an original sentence of their own to demonstrate understanding. Students may also choose to illustrate the word's election meaning at the bottom of the page.
  6. Have students save their dictionary entries in a special folder until you feel that they have covered most of the important jargon. Then, have students compile the pages into a book using alphabetical order. Students can design a cover that reads, "My Election Dictionary."

Supporting All Learners

Create a model entry using the word, "candidate," to help visual learners and learners with difficulty attending get started.

Lesson Extensions

Once students have learned 10 or more new election words, have them create a word scramble or crossword puzzle with the words. Log on to for instructions and ideas.Assess StudentsAssess students' finished dictionary pages, checking their original sentences to see if they understand each word's meaning.Home Connection:Invite students to hunt for the election word of the day in newspapers and other media at home.

Assess Students

Assess students' finished dictionary pages, checking their original sentences to see if they understand each word's meaning.

Home Connection

Invite students to hunt for the election word of the day in newspapers and other media at home.

Scholastic Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail. Keep up with the latest election news in this special report. 

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