Social Studies Activity
Your students may be aware of the techniques used by advertisers
to sell products and services. They may be less conscious of the
purposes and intents of advertisements that try to shape their
opinions and affect their behavior. In this activity, they look for
and analyze examples of those ads.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Magazines and newspapers that can be cut up
- Paper and pencil
- An Analysis Chart for each group (print and copy)
WHAT TO DO
- Discuss with students what they already know about
advertising techniques for selling products and services. Then ask
them to think of ads that try to sell a particular point of view in
order to shape public opinion and affect readers' behavior.
Examples might include the following:
- Health and safety issues such as fire safety, seat-belt or
bicycle helmet use, and anti-smoking messages
- Political ads for or against candidates
- Environmental issues, such as those involving carpooling to cut
down on pollution from cars, land use, and logging versus animal
- Have students look through magazines and newspapers for
examples of opinion-shaping ads and cut them out.
- Divide the class into groups and distribute the ads among them.
Explain that you would like each group to take several ads and
analyze them, using the Analysis Chart.
Have them staple the ad
to its analysis chart.
- Bring students together as a class to discuss their findings. In
summation, point out that while some ads take a stand that most
readers can agree with (such as fire safety), it is important to
consider the source of each ad, its purpose, and what other points
of view might be worth discussing before making a decision.
There may currently be an issue of importance to your
community on which there is a difference of opinion. An example
might be the imposition of a curfew on youths under 16 years of
age. Ask students to consider the positions of different groups,
such as youths, adults, local business people, and police. Then
have groups of students representing each point of view create an
ad that is designed to shape public opinion and/or affect its
behavior. As a class, compare the ads, using the questions in the
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