One of my absolute favorite things to do in the classroom is to teach with political cartoons. I integrate them into every topic possible. I love that they give kids a real “in the moment” look at what someone was thinking about the given issue or topic. I love that political cartoons represent all the different points of view at the time, and they make kids consider a perspective that isn’t necessarily represented in the textbook. They can be funny, ironic, sobering, in your face, subtle, misleading, or say what everyone is thinking but no one is saying…they can be anything and everything!
When we get to the cartoon(s) of the day, I first have my kids try to decipher the cartoons based on the background knowledge they have on the topic and what they can see/read in the cartoon. At the end of some topics they occasionally make their own cartoons (representing opposite points of view), and we frequently look at the evolution and usage of political cartoons through the event (if big enough) or over the years (among MANY other activities and approaches).
My all time favorite political cartoonist is Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss). During WW2 he produced some absolutely genius political cartoons, including my favorite cartoon of all time which I have in a poster size for my classroom. I just think it is SO clever and SO spot on as to how the “Hitler Headache” was dealt with at the time…it’s really the BEST. When we study this particular cartoon, I always end my part of the lesson by asking my kids, “what do you think it will take for these guys to take off the ostrich bonnets?” In other words, what is it going to take for America to see or accept the magnitude of Europe’s predicament, or help Europe deal with the worsening Hitler situation? They then write a respectable reflection and prediction paragraph response in their journals (a topic for another post). In general though, when we get to a political cartoon, my kids answer analytical, opinion, and reflection/prediction questions individually, in pairs, or in groups.
If you want to incorporate Dr. Seuss political cartoons into your World War 2 unit, click HERE for the best website with which to start. If you want a custom lesson designed based on political cartoons (Dr. Seuss or political cartoons in general), please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a pre-designed political cartoon activity in my TpT store, click HERE to see it.
Here’s a sample of my other “must show the kids” Dr. Seuss cartoons during WW2: