3 Free Websites for Learning About the Presidential Election

Use these civics resources to explore the democratic process.

October 18, 2016
Emily Major Associate Managing Editor, Education
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, United States
CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Tools

Many students need help understanding the complexities of our presidential election cycle. There are online resources specific to this year's election, such as C-SPAN Classroom: Campaign 2016 and The Political Machine 2016, but the picks below are solid sites to reference during any election season.

Students will build their decision-making and critical-thinking skills as they explore the many strategic decisions involved in a presidential race. The nuts and bolts of our democratic process, including the electoral college, states' voting histories, and political issues, are integral to a full understanding of this year's unique and contentious election. Get started with our top choices below:

Win the Whitehouse

Price: Free
Platform: Linux, Mac, Windows
Grades: 6–12
Bring the election process to life with this well-rounded civics game. Students simulate running for president and make important decisions along the way, from choosing a political party to campaigning in the right states. By selecting which political issues to champion, students learn about both partisan divides and opportunities for compromise. Tip: Use this lesson plan to develop the persuasive-argumentation skills that are crucial to a successful political platform.

270 to Win

Price: Free
Platforms: Website
Grades: 6–12
Though beginners may need guidance using this website, it's a great resource to learn about the electoral college and the history of U.S. presidential elections. Students can use the interactive maps to track past election cycles or create a map based on their own predictions for the current race. There's also a blog, quizzes, and a 2016 election simulator to explore. During the live election in November, students can watch as the electoral votes come in and will understand the importance of the number 270.  


Price: Free
Platforms: Website
Grades: 9–12
This nonpartisan site is great for exploring political views and hot-button topics (it's updated regularly to stay current on the issues). Students take a quiz on a range of topics and then see how their views align with the major political parties. Once they've identified their own political leanings, students can explore a collection of resources, including news stories, heat maps, and discussion threads, to learn more about the issues. While not created specifically for the classroom, this site is an accessible and engaging resource.