Elementary Lessons



Guiding Question

What is politics? Why should we respect others’ opinions even if they are different from our own?


People have different values and beliefs, which influence their viewpoints and desired actions on specific issues. In this unit, students explore different opinions and views in a mock schoolyard renovation project. They use their powers of persuasion to try to convince their classmates and the school board to agree with their renovation idea. Students are introduced to the concept of politics and the ways in which citizens influence government. In the Consolidation activity, they reflect on politics and the importance of respecting others’ opinions even if they are different than their own.


We are learning to:

  • engage in an inquiry process to solve problems as well as acquire, process, interpret, synthesize, and critically analyze information to make informed decisions (Global Competencies – Critical Thinking & Problem Solving);
  • contribute solutions to meet a need in the community (Global Competencies – Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship);
  • participate in teams by establishing positive and respectful relationships, developing trust and acting cooperatively and with integrity (Global Competencies – Collaboration);
  • demonstrate effective communication skills to advocate for our ideas using words and examples (Global Competencies – Communication);
  • demonstrate an understanding and respect for others’ viewpoints (Citizenship Education Framework – Attributes).



  • understand and analyze information to make an informed decision;
  • contribute ideas and solutions to meet a need in my school community;
  • work collaboratively with my peers to develop a ‘pitch’ about one idea;
  • use persuasive language when trying to convince someone;
  • compare and contrast how different people may view and interpret the same issue.


Social Studies Gr. 5 B3, B3.1
Oral Communication 1, 3, 1.2, 3.1
Writing 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.4
Media Literacy 3, 3.3


1. Ask students what they know about politics. Students should write down their thoughts in the K column on Activity 2.1 (What do I KNOW about politics?).

2. Now ask students to write down their next set of thoughts in the W column on Activity 2.1 (What do I WANT to know about politics?).


Schoolyard Renovation

1. Using an imaginary scenario, inform students that the Ontario provincial government will be providing money to school boards for schoolyard renovation projects. Since money is limited, schools will need to determine where, why and how they would spend the money, and convince the school board to make the investment.

2. Lead a class brainstorming session on how the money could be spent such as building something new, fixing something or purchasing equipment. The focus could be social or environmental. Record the ideas on the blackboard, chart paper or interactive white board.

3. As a class, group similar ideas together so that there are four to six main ideas. Help students form groups based on their interest in one of the main ideas. Ask each group to discuss their idea in more detail and record the reasons why their idea should be considered. Questions to prompt discussion: Does it solve a problem? What would be the impact on students? How many students could be affected by the idea?

4. Ask each group to put together a pitch to share with the class. You can model a pitch by taking a ‘crazy’ idea (i.e., building a tree house for raccoons) and tell the class why they should agree with you. Alternatively, you could provide an example of a good pitch (Exemplar – The Drip Drop, Shark Tank)

5. Co-develop criteria for a ‘good pitch’ with your students. Sample criteria can be found below.

  • One clear idea;
  • A great “hook” to get the audience excited;
  • Short and to the point;
  • Shared with passion and excitement;
  • Explains why it is the best idea or what problem it will solve.

6. After the pitches, ask students to vote for the idea they liked the most. You can do this through a show of hands or a secret ballot. Tell students they cannot pick their own idea.

7. Review the concept of politics and elections. Make clear connections to the school renovation activity.

  • In any given place – a neighbourhood, municipality, province or country – anywhere that groups of people live together and where rules and decisions affect everyone, there will be different viewpoints and opinions about how things should work. This includes deciding which issues are most important and how best to take action.
  • In a democracy, we elect politicians to make decisions on our behalf. A candidate is a person who competes for the job of a politician.
  • During elections, candidates try to convince voters that their goals and ideas are the best. Citizens express their choices through voting.
  • Politics can be described as the activities, ideas and actions that are used to gain power in society, or the ways that citizens try to influence a government.
  • People have different values and beliefs, which influence their viewpoints and desired actions on specific issues. It is important to respect others’ opinions, even if they differ from our own.


1. Have a brief closing discussion about politics or ask students to write a reflection on one or more of the following questions.

  • Did any group make you want to re-consider your own preferences for improving the schoolyard? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think different people or groups have different ideas or perspectives?
  • Why should we respect others’ opinions even if they are different from our own?
  • Why is it important that people can influence their government? Give examples of how people impact government actions.

2. Ask students to write down their thoughts in the L column on Activity 2.1 (What did I LEARN about politics?).


  • The unit is not necessarily meant to be covered entirely in one period. Please use the activities and combine them in a way that is appropriate for your class.


  • Activity 2.1: Politics – KWL Chart [PDF] [Word]

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