Which Election?

Understanding federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal/local elections

Teacher's guide

*Please note that this resource is available online only. 

Overall description


In this activity, students are asked to reflect upon their own experience with dividing tasks. Then students watch two short videos to learn about how government responsibilities are divided and about the impact these divisions have on elections in Canada. Students then deepen their understanding by completing activities at different learning stations, to explore the three levels of government and the different aspects that occur with elections on each level. Finally, students consolidate their understanding through both class discussion and personal refection; and, are encouraged to explore how they can actively engage in the electoral process.

Time needed

60 minutes

Big idea

Citizens vote in elections at federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal/local levels. These elections are run by different organizations, under different conditions, and elect different parliaments, legislatures, and councils. There are opportunities for citizens to be involved in elections at all levels of government.

Inquiry questions

What kinds of elections do we have in Canada? How can I engage in the process?

Competencies and skills

  • Students will work collaboratively: demonstrating respect, integrity, and open-mindedness
  • Students will gather information relevant to their own electoral communities
  • Students will examine maps to better understand elections at all three levels of government in Canada
  • Students will connect headline news topics to the appropriate level of government and think critically about the topics that they care about
  • Students will reflect on their learning, and consider how they can engage in elections at all three levels
  • Students will practise a variety of online search skills to arrive at the appropriate information

Setting up


The following materials are provided in different formats to help meet your needs. You can also find all essential materials for this lesson at the bottom of the page.

Printable materials
  • Station Reflections Handout [HTML]  [PDF]
  • Station 1 – Can You Vote If …? [HTML]  [PDF]
  • Station 2 – Which Level of Government? [HTML]  [PDF]
  • Station 3 – Where Am I? [HTML]  [PDF]
Digital material
Additional material
  • Projector
  • Electronic devices, such as computers or tablet with Internet access (at least 2)


Before class begins, download the printed materials needed for this activity. You may need to prepare two sets of materials, so that the groups are kept to an appropriate size.  Arrange the stations appropriately, so that each group has access to the Internet; and, at least one digital device at each station.

  • Station Reflections Handout  – one copy for each student in your class
  • Station 1 – Can You Vote If …?
    • Post the instructions on the wall
    • Prepare one copy of the student activity sheet for each group
    • Ensure that students will have access to the Internet
  • Station 2 – Which Level of Government?
    • Post the instructions on the wall
    • Prepare one copy of the student activity sheet for each group
    • Cut apart the Headline News Cards and place them in the station
    • Print the reference sheet and place it at the station face down
  • Station 3 – Where Am I?
    • Post the instructions on the wall
    • Prepare one copy of the student activity sheet for each group
    • Give students access to the relevant electoral maps for your school. (Links to the relevant maps, at each level of government, are provided in the background information section of this resource.)
    • Ensure that students will have access to the Internet to search for their elected representatives’ contact information

Note: If Internet access is not available in class, you will need to print the relevant information for Stations 1 and 3:

  • Station 1: Information on ways to vote from the election agencies’ websites
  • Station 3: Relevant contact information from the elected representatives’ websites

Minds on

10 minutes

Ask students to think about a time when they had to work together in a group, whether at school, at home, or in their community.

Ask: Did you have to divide up the tasks among different people? How did you decide who did what?

Have students turn and talk with a partner, and then share their thinking with the class.

Ask: How do you think the task of governing Canada is divided?

Invite students to turn and talk with a partner, to see what they know. Write their responses on the board under the titles Federal, Provincial/Territorial and Municipal/Local.

Next, show the Three Levels of Government video . Tell students to look and listen for the different responsibilities found at each level.

Ask: What responsibilities did you observe in the video?

Have students turn and talk again with a partner. Then, invite partners to share their observations with the class and add to your lists on the board.

Explain that it is especially important to know what each level of government is responsible for during an election. Also explore that the same voter can vote in elections at each level of government. This is because voters elect different government with different responsibilities, and voters need to know about what election they’re voting in, the responsibilities of their elected representatives at each level, and where to turn if they have questions.

Now have the students view the second short video, to explore how elections work in Canada.


Understanding the three levels of elections (10 minutes)

Show the Three Levels of Elections video . After the video, ask students to turn and talk with a partner; or, in their small groups, to share something they have learned, or to share a question they may have. Then ask partners or groups to share their learning and/or questions with the class, and write their responses on the board.

Explain that they will be learning more about elections and the three levels of government through the learning stations. Students will return to their questions at the end of the lesson to see whether any have been answered.

Learning stations (30 minutes)

Explain that students will now deepen their learning at the three learning stations around the room. They will work together in teams, and they will have 10 minutes at each station.

At each station, place the station instructions on the wall or on the desk. Make sure that each station has enough materials for the group to fully and collaboratively complete the activity; and, ensure each student receives a copy of the Station Reflections Handout to take around to each station and complete.

Note: Depending on the size of your class, you may need to set up multiples of each station.

Students then complete the activities at each station to add to their understanding of elections at the three levels of government. As they finish at each station, they will work together to complete the appropriate section on the Station Reflections Handout.

Station 1 – Can You Vote If …?

At this station, students will learn who qualifies as an elector at each level of government. Students read a real-life scenario about accessibility, voter registration, and/or the different ways to vote; and, then work together to research online if the person described in the scenario can vote. Each group should complete the handout collaboratively, completing as many questions as they can within the time limit.

Station 2 – Which Level of Government?

At this station, students work together to sort the Headline News Cards into federal, provincial/territorial or municipal/local responsibilities. Then, students create a list of the topics that they care most about and sort the topics on that list into the three levels of government. Afterwards, groups identify one topic at each level that is important to them and explain how they could get involved.

Station 3 – Where Am I?

At this station, students explore the idea that every citizen belongs to more than one electoral district. They examine federal, provincial/territorial and municipal/local maps to compare their electoral districts across the three levels. Then, they write down the names of their current elected representatives and how they can be contacted at each level.


10 minutes

Have students return from the final station, and give them a few minutes to complete the Station Reflections Handout. Ask if some of their questions from the Minds On activity were answered. Lead a brief discussion to address their initial questions. Direct their attention to the inquiry questions:

  • What kinds of elections do we have in Canada?
  • How can I engage in the process?

Ask which of their reflections are most helpful in answering these inquiry questions.

Invite students to share their most helpful thoughts with a partner or small group and to write one final refection about why they chose them. These reflections can be collected at the end of the class to monitor or assess students’ learning and metacognition.

Teacher tips

  • Turn-and-Talk is used in this activity as a simple talk protocol. This is a helpful way to engage all students, and to provide support for academic conversations. Students share their ideas with a partner. Then, they share them in a small group or with the whole class. This gives time for thinking, builds confidence, and ensures that all students have the opportunity to have their voices heard.
  • Learning stations have students moving from one station to another, in teams. This protocol provides an opportunity for students to move around the room, and can result in more engagement by providing novel experiences at each station. It also keeps students accountable to the work they’re completing, and to each other; because, students must respect time limits and work together to complete each station.
  • Station 1 can be done using printed materials, if necessary; however, this station is intended to help students practise Internet search skills, such as checking URLs and using good search terms. It is also intended to show students how electors can find voting information during a real election.
  • The Station Reflections Handout engages students in metacognition. Teachers can get feedback about what students have really learned and what questions they have. These insights can help teachers plan meaningful instruction based on student needs and interests. Students can use exit cards to build their understanding over time and to see their own growth as learners.
  • Sentence stems, such as “One thing I learned is …” are useful, especially for language learners, since they help to model sentence structure. They are also helpful for reluctant or struggling learners, as they are more invitational than a question, which can be perceived to have a right or wrong answer.
  • In Station 2, students can resolve differences of opinion by consensus or majority rule. Remind students of classroom norms, such as listening and respect, to help them resolve conflicts.

To use this lesson:

You will need