Tag Archives: debate

Listen, Learn, Decide: 2012 Presidential Debate

3 Oct

It doesn’t happen very often that I declare absolute control over what we watch on TV, usually opting not to watch at all while the kids get their fill of all things DISNEY/NICK/CARTOON NETWORK.  But every once in awhile, there are events that I want to watch, requiring that I take temporary charge of the remote control.  When this happens, I’ve found that there are two things that make this abrupt change in behavior much more acceptable:

1. Snack trays.
2. Worksheets.

Tonight’s Presidential Debate is one of those TV watching occasions that I really don’t want to miss.  Taking a page from my experience with the Oscars and the Super Bowl, I’ve created a worksheet for the kids to use during the debate.  Armed with a pencil and clipboard, the worksheet will help to keep the kids engaged and listening as the debate happens.

Depending on their age and how much they understand, this may only last for a few minutes, but it gives me the chance to hear the candidates and the kids to start to understand the basics of civic responsibility.  As second and fourth graders, I don’t expect that they will fully grasp the content of the debate or the positions of the candidates, but by watching the process they can start to understand that it is the responsibility of every voter to LISTEN, LEARN and DECIDE.

In each of the worksheet fields, I’ll ask the kids to write a few words or sentences to capture their thoughts – what they heard, what they liked about it, and what they’d like to learn more about.  Lastly, I’ll ask them to make a decision based on what they know.  I’d like the kids to understand that it is equally important to be INFORMED and TO TAKE ACTION.

Want to join us?  Sharpen your pencil, grab a clipboard, and print your own chart below.

Print it: Debate Chart_2012


14 Jun

In the long-standing tradition of siblings, my kids argue with each other.  A lot.  This seems to be a big problem in the car, and I can only pull over so many times to try to referee or wait out an argument.  To channel the arguments and to try to make it more about persuasion and less about punching, I created a game we call Debate.   It helps to keep them busy, helps them to learn to formulate arguments using words instead of whining, and sometimes they even see things in the same way.

How to Play:
1.Player 1 selects a topic (examples: trees, parks, air, books, trains). For this example, we’ll use STRAWBERRIES as the topic.
2. Player 1 chooses a position and presents the first argument by starting out the statement with “I am for (or against) STRAWBERRIES”.  Then, the player presents their reason(s).  The message should be brief with a focus on presenting persuasive and compelling reasons.  When finished, Player 1 concludes with “And that’s why I’m for (or against) STRAWBERRIES.”
3. Player 2 chooses a position and presents an argument using the opening and closing statements.  Repeat until all players have had a turn.
4. Wrap up the debate by taking a vote to see if anyone was persuaded to switch sides.  The position with the most votes wins.

Few suggestions:
1. Make a few rules about topics that appeal to your general sensibilities.  I have two rules – we can’t repeat topics in a single game, and no topics that include bathroom words.  That last rule is essential if you have an 8 year old boy.  Trust me.
2. At least one player should take the unpopular position, usually that is me.  Even if you are FOR STRAWBERRIES in real life, if all the other players are as well, you’ll need to take the AGAINST STRAWBERRIES stance to round out the arguments.

Where & When to Play:
This game is ideal for the car, but really it can be played anywhere arguing normally occurs.  Which is everywhere.

Recommended Ages:
Ages 4 and Up.  Remembering the structure of the game requires a bit of memory, and for my kids, this seemed to become easier to play at age 4.