Advertising Analysis Ideas for Teaching Media Literacy

  • For my first and second graders, I had read them Puss in Boots earlier. I asked them to pretend that we were going to do a play of it--what information would we need to include in a special bookmark we'd give to their parents to ask them to come to the play? We brainstormed a bit and then they got to make their own bookmark "ad."
  • With third and fourth, have them analyze a book cover--how does it work as an advertisement? Then, show them a movie poster for the same story (Charlotte's Web, Eragon). What changes are made and why? Is the target audience the same? Does the focus of the story seem to be the same? Then, have them make their own movie poster for a book that has not yet been adapted to film--who would they cast? What would their tagline be?
  • With fifth, have them analyze the ALA website's "Read" campaign. Which celebrities work well as a reading endorsement? Which ones don't make sense? Again, is there a separate audience for different posters? What about the design of the ad (the setting, the book their holding) makes it work, or not work? As above, have them choose their own celebrity and design their own "Read" poster (this would be really fun if you had computer lab access and could use the ALA's software for making them--we just did them by hand.)
  • My sixth graders were studying World War II, so I had them analyze US savings bond propaganda--same items as above. Start with something they're familiar with (I used the new Superman Returns "Got Milk?" ad and the photo shoot Disney just did with celebrities as Disney characters) to start them off--talk about what makes them effective, use of color, design, celebrity endorsement, audience, etc.)
(Submitted by Heather Price, Reagan Academy)