by Donna Krache, CNN

For civics teachers (and former civics teachers like me), the presidential election is our equivalent of the Olympics.  We prepare for months and pour all our energy into teaching all about the electoral process, looking for ways to make it fun and interesting for students.

If you’re a teacher or a parent who is teaching your students about elections, there are free resources from CNN.com that can really help you bring your curriculum to life.

You can find all these resources at the CNN Election Center, but we’ll also highlight each one separately here:

Probably the most useful for teachers of civics/government, U.S. history and general social studies is the CNN Electoral Map Calculator.  It shows CNN’s estimates of who will win which states, as well as states that may be leaning toward a candidate and battleground states.  But you and your students can create your own picks and scenarios for this year’s race, and you can use the pull-down menu on the right to look at the last two presidential contests.  These are great ways to promote geography skills and basic math skills and illustrate to your students the strategy behind political campaigns.

How much time and money are the candidates spending in each state?  Now that your students understand the importance of winning Electoral College votes, they can understand why voters in states like Ohio and Florida are seeing lots of political ads, compared to their fellow voters in many other states.  Point students to the CNN Campaign Explorer to learn more about the concentration of ads, money and travel in each state.

Finally, if your class is focusing on the topic of public opinion, or if you are interested in helping students improve their skill at interpreting charts and graphs, go to the CNN Poll of Polls interactive.  The CNN Poll of Polls is calculated by using three approved polls to arrive at the numbers you see on the charts on different dates.  You can quiz students on candidates’ percentages on different dates in national polls as well as in battleground states, and you can ask them what factors might account for changes in the polling results.

Share these resources with your colleagues, and share any tips you have for teaching the election in the comments section below.