It’s funny – it feels like just yesterday when I was trying to teach my kids about elections and how they work. But it’s actually been 4 years since that was a real focus of ours.
Now, they’re somehow 4 years older and ready to delve even deeper into elections.
I created this game to help showcase the impact of the electoral college. It’s a very simple game and not a perfect representation. But it’s a fun play and hopefully helps them understand a bit more about how the system works.
Elections Go Fish Style Game
If you’ve ever played Go Fish, you already know how to play this game. It’s essentially a Go Fish game with an elections overlay.
However, I’m going to encourage you to change some rules to make it a bit more challenging.
For instance, adjusting the number of cards in a set based on population of the state. California should be more difficult to get than Wyoming. But we will get into that in a moment.
How to Set Up the Elections Game
The first step is to print the cards, the state board, and the Electors by State cheat sheet.
The cards should be printed on cardstock and two-sided. If your printed doesn’t print double-sided you can either print one side, flip it over and print again or print on separate pieces of paper and glue together.
Or another alternative – print them state side and decorate the backs yourself!
Just make sure to use thick cardstock so you cannot see through the card and so the cards hold up to use.
You’ll need 5 sets of the cards. The last page of cards only needs to be printed three times because the states on the last page are repeated.
After the cards are printed, cut them out. Try to keep them as uniform as possible.
I’m working on finding a way to have these professionally printed and cut. But that won’t happen before this election.
Last, laminate the state page or put it in a sheet protector. Depending on the age of your kids and how you want to play, you’ll need 1 state page total or 1 per person.
We like to color in the states as we gathering the sets so we use one for all of the players.
Now you’re ready!
How to Play the Election Printable Game
To start, the dealer will deal 5 cards to each player.
The first person to the dealers right goes first. They can ask any other player if they
have a specific card (i.e. Do you have any Arizona’s?) The person asking has to have that card in their hand. So they can only ask another person for an Arizona card if they have an Arizona card.
If the player has any of that card, they must give them to the player who asked.
If the player does not have any of that card, they say say ‘go fish’ and the player who asked draws a card from the draw pile.
When a player has 4 of the same card, they place the set in front of them.
Play continues until cards are all gone.
At the end, reveal the sets you’ve collected. Use the Electors card to determine how electors each player has gathered.
For instance, if someone has the set for Ohio, they had 18 electors.
If anyone gets over 270 electors, they win.
If no one gets 270 electors, the House of Representatives chooses the candidate. In the case of this game, the House of Representatives always chooses the person with the most electoral votes (unless you want to come up with a different method deciding who the House of Representatives would choose)
How to Adjust the Rules to Make it More Challenging or Realistic
I tried to keep the game as simple as possible but there are parts we change when playing.
First of all, we have 3 different levels for the states. Some states only need 3 cards for the sets, some need 4 cards for the set, and a few states need 5 cards for the set.
You can adjust this to fit your family. For example, you might decide to only print 4 sets of states. In this case, getting 5 of one state would be impossible. So just make sure to keep your game consistent with how many sets you decide to print.
Go More in Depth with Elections
If you’re checking out this game, my guess is that you want to cover elections more in depth with your children. So I’m adding a few of my favorite elections resources here for you.
- Get these 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Cards from Research Parent
- Check out a book on elections
- Play a game at iCivics.com
- Do this election lesson.