Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Road to the Presidency
Janet Richards
Social Studies
Time Frame:
1-2 weeks
2008 Presidential Election
Campaign Strategy
Electoral College
Political Parties

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Presidential elections can seem both exciting and confusing! In fact, the whole process starts long before the actual election takes place. Although the job of President may appear "glamorous" or "easy", it is a position of incredible responsibility. Thomas Jefferson, our country's third president, described the job as "a splendid misery". Yet, despite that description, many Americans declare themselves as candidates pursuing the highest office in the land! This journey will explore what is takes to become President of the United States.


Students will have a better understanding of how presidential elections work

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Missouri Standards

1. Principles expressed in the documents shaping constitutional democracy in the United States

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

3. Principles and processes of governance systems

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


Kansas Standards


Benchmark 3: The student understands how the United States Constitution allocates power and responsibility in the government.

1. (K) recognizes the United States Constitution as the document that defines the rights and responsibilities of citizens in the United States

Benchmark 4: The student identifies and examines the rights, privileges, and responsibilities in becoming an active civic participant.

1. (K) determines how people can participate in government and why it is important (e.g., jury duty, voting, running for office, community service).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Look under cspan in the lower right corner for lesson plans that help to support the election process.

To track electoral voting, use this official electoral vote chart from the National Archives and transfer it to a US political map.

Technology Required:

computer, power point software

Full description of activity or assignment.



At the computer:


1. Visit the "Presidential Exploration" website to research the constitutional requirements necessary to become President. Write down the requirements in order to make the first slide in your PowerPoint presentation.

2. Decide what other qualities the President should have to be an effective leader. Explore the PBS American President site for examples of presidential success and failure. Click on any of the episode pictures to see groupings of Presidents. Make a list of qualities you feel are important to include in your second PowerPoint slide.

3. Now that you have researched the requirements and leadership qualities needed to be President, political parties are another important part of this process. Click on the "parties" link and read about "Federalists", "Democratic-Republicans", "Whigs", "Democrats", and "Republicans". Note when each of these parties came about, and interesting facts. Your notes here will help you create your third PowerPoint slide.

4. Experience counts! The public expects the President to have certain types of job experience proir to running for this office. Explore the American President website to find out what jobs / experience our former Presidents have had. Take notes and use this information in PowerPoint slide four.

5. Still want to be President? Just what is the job of the President? Visit "Powers & Limitations" of the President and "6 months in the life of Harry S. Truman" to research some of the responsibilities of this job. Describe the responsibilities and meetings associated with being President in your fifth PowerPoint slide.

6. Take a trip on the "road to the presidency!" How do you get nominated and eventually elected? Explore the election process, review electoral voting, and look at where all of the political conventions have been held! Is your city listed? If so how many times? Explain the election steps in PowerPoint slide six. (Hint: A flowchart could be a great way to organize this information!)

7. Now explore the Republican and Democratic candidates currently running for President. Make notes and use them to create your last PowerPoint slide.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

The PowerPoint presentation is the culminating activity for this webquest. The presentation should be evaluated using the following criteria:



Needs Work

Information Research Skills

Information is accurate and easily understandable

Information may not be completely accurate and/or is incomplete or confusing

Design Appeal

The slides are colorful; text is easy to read and information looks appealing

Slides may seem repetitious and unvaried; text is hard to read and/or layout is unappealing


Adequate time was spent on this project; it is finished completely as required

Not enough time was spent on this project and/or it remains incomplete