Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Political Cartoons

Kim Forgione


Students observe, discuss, and identify techniques used and messages conveyed through various political cartoons.


The student identifies the author's purpose in a simple text.

The student writes notes, comments, and observations that reflect comprehension of content and experiences from a variety of media.

The student recognizes different techniques used in media messages and their purposes.

The student understands that a variety of messages can be conveyed through mass media.


-Several grade appropriate political cartoons on transparencies (see WEB LINK for great collection of cartoons that can be downloaded and printed).
-Copies of Discussion Sheet for each student.
-Overhead projector.
-(Optional) Make copies of cartoons for small groups of students to share if no overhead
is available.
-(Optional) If your students have access to computers, you can use the WEB LINK listed to view and
discuss political cartoons seen on the monitor.


1. Collect and make transparencies of political cartoons that are appropriate for your grade level.
2. Make student copies of the Discussion Sheet.
3. (Optional) Make copies of political cartoons for small groups of students to share.
4. (Optional) Bookmark WEB LINK site on computers students will use during this lesson.


1. Gain students' attention by asking who likes comics or cartoons. Allow a few volunteers to share their favorites and tell what they like about them. Discuss messages conveyed through these types of cartoons.
2. Introduce students to a special kind of cartoon or comic ( the political cartoon) by displaying one of the transparencies or handing out copies of political cartoons for small groups to share or directing them to the WEB LINK site on their computers.
3. Discuss the cartoon of your choice using the Discussion Sheet as a guide.
4. Repeat the discussion process one to two more times with different cartoons or until students can fairly easily determine the techniques and messages conveyed by the cartoonists. They should also be able to identify the main concept and supporting details of the cartoons.
5. Pass out student copies of the Discussion Sheet to each student.
6. Choose another transparency or copy of a political cartoon that students will be able to assess on their own.
7. Direct students to study the cartoon and respond to the questions on the Discussion Sheet.
8. Allow 15 - 20 minutes for students to respond, then have volunteers share their responses.
9. Students turn in Disucssion Sheets to be graded according to the assessment criteria.


This lesson will be assessed by the responses from the Discussion Sheet. Students should identify the cartoonist's message and one to two techniques used by the cartoonist to convey their message. Students should also decide if they agree or disagree with the cartoonist's message and explain why they agree or disagree. Students should be able to successfully respond to all five items on the discussion sheet. Accept all reasonable answers. If not, give them more practice with simpler cartoons in later lessons. Some students may need to be offered choices for the cartoonist's message instead of coming up with the main idea on their own.


Students with special needs could work with a partner. Those who need a challenge can extend this activity by creating their own political cartoons based upon their views on a given topic.

Web Links

This is a kid-safe, approved site with excellent Teacher Guides!
Professional Cartoonists Index

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