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Advertising Assignments For Middle School

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  • Pictures, Symbols, and Slogans Worksheet printable
  • Transfer Techniques Worksheet printable
  • Computer and projector
  • Examples of local or national advertisements that display good use of visual symbols, catchphrases, sales pitches, and incentives
  • Samples of various magazine advertisements
  • Construction paper
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Optional: Art materials like scissors, glue, paper scraps, etc.

Both worksheets used in this lesson plan were originally printed in Persuasive Writing by Tara McCarthy.

  1. Make class sets of the Pictures, Symbols, and Slogans Worksheet printable and the Transfer Techniques Worksheet printable.
  2. Prepare to display the two printables with the projector.
  3. Optional: It may be helpful to search through the advertisement examples ahead of time to find a few ads that include:
    • Visual symbols
    • Catchphrases
    • Explanations and/or descriptions of the products being sold
    • Incentive to come to the sale or buy the products

Part I

Step 1: Introduce the concept of persuasion through advertising by passing out samples of magazine advertisements.

Step 2: Conduct a class discussion about what makes the advertisement attractive and convincing. Ask students for examples and allow them to discuss the difference between the pictures, symbols and/or slogans that they found. Students should hold up the advertisement they are discussing as a visual reference for the other students.

Step 3: During the class discussion, make three columns on the board and label them: Pictures, Symbols, and Slogans. Based on the class discussion, list examples of what students' qualify each as a picture, symbol, or slogan and write various examples in each column.

Part II

Step 1: Distribute the Pictures, Symbols, and Slogans Worksheet printable to students and projector the worksheet for the class to see.

Step 2: Ask students to quickly brainstorm what comes to mind when they see the symbols or read the catchwords and catchphrases in column 1. Write students' responses in the second column.

Step 3: Have students write their personal reactions to the symbols, catchwords, and catchphrases in column 2 of their own worksheets.

Step 4: As a class, discuss what "transfer" means in persuasive writing: the appeal to emotions and feelings through pictures or phrases.

Step 5: Have students keep their copies of the Pictures, Symbols, and Slogans Worksheet for future reference.

Part III

Step 1: Divide the class into four or five small groups. Each group will study part of the classroom collection of magazine advertisements from Day 1. Explain that students will need to examine the advertisements to determine their purpose, how they achieve that purpose, and what they are selling.

Step 2: Hand out the advertisement examples and review the following:

  • Visual symbol
  • Catchphrase
  • Explanation and/or description of the product being sold
  • Incentive to come to the sale or buy the product

Step 3: Distribute the Transfer Techniques Worksheet printable to students. Let students know that they can complete the worksheet as a group, but that all students should have their own copy of the group's answers.

Step 4: Have students find at least one advertisement that evokes each of the feelings and emotions in column 1. For each advertisement example, the group should record the picture or catchphrase that appeals to the emotion in column 2. In column 3, the group should record the product or service that the advertiser is selling.

Step 5: Have each group present their entries to the whole class and discuss what is persuasive about each advertisement.

Part IV

Step 1: Distribute construction paper, colored pencils, and other art materials.

Step 2: Ask students to work independently or with a partner to write and design an advertisement.

Step 3: Have students or pairs present their advertisements to the class.

Step 4: Conduct a class discussion by studying each ad and determining how well the advertiser followed the guidelines.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Students can create a commercial for their advertised product. They can work individually or in groups and write a script for the commercial. Then break students into small groups to act out each other's commercials or skits for the class.

Additional Resources

Here are some resource books I use to guide my curriculum design. From different ways to publish students' writing to understanding literary elements, these resources will be sure to give you new and creative ideas to spark students' interests.

  • Persuasive Writing by Tara McCarthy
    An excellent resource filled with an abundance of ideas for teaching persuasion. From simple, one day activities, to an entire unit plan, this resource has it all! Be sure to check out the reproducible worksheets!
  • 50 Writing Lessons That Work: Motivating Prompts and Easy Activities That Develop the Essentials of Strong Writing by Carol Rawlings Miller
    Each lesson begins by explaining the skill focus and includes a ready-to-go assignment. It is a great supplement for your writing curriculum. I use these assignments when I know I need to plan for a substitute.
  • Step-by-Step Strategies for Teaching Expository Writing by Barbara Mariconda
    Students will benefit from seeing the examples of various writing strategies in a step-by-step process. This resource comes complete with essay samples and reproducible worksheets.
  • Have students find an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper that:
    • uses a visual symbol
    • has a catchphrase
    • explains the product
    • convinces the customer to come to the sale and buy the product
  • Have students analyze an advertisement for its color, font size, and placement of graphics or pictures. Students can write a reflection about what they found.
  • Did students understand the importance of pictures, symbols, and slogans?
  • Did students understand transfer techniques?
  • Were students able to include these persuasive techniques in their advertisements?
  • Were students able to identify which ads were persuasive enough to attract a savvy audience?

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