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Dr. Seuss Political Cartoon Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to examine the political cartoons of Dr. Seuss and connect them to the events of World War II. They will discuss political cartoons as primary sources and learn how to read them.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the works and style of Dr. Seuss
  • Connect political cartoons to the context of the time
  • Express greater comfort in the literacy of visual imagery

Length

45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C

Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

Materials

Instructions

  • Begin class by showing students an image of a popular Dr. Seuss character, like the Cat in the Hat or the Grinch. Ask them to identify the artist (they should respond with Dr. Seuss), and ask them how they know. What visual traits helped them to connect the image with the artist?
  • Distribute printed copies of lesson Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons: Explanation & Analysis
  • Ask students to read the first three paragraphs (either individually or in groups). Pause here to discuss.
    • What is a political cartoon? What would be the difference between Seuss' political cartoons and other cartoons?
    • Are political cartoons primary sources? Why or why not?
    • To understand political cartoons, what additional information do we need? If we were to look at political cartoons from World War II, what would we need to know about World War II in order to understand them?
  • Ask students to look at the cartoon in the image, but instruct them not to read the lesson below it. Have students write out the answers to the following questions. When they are done, you can discuss these as a class.
    • Describe the cartoon- what is it about? What is the tone?
    • What details stand out to you? What visual cues does Dr. Seuss give the reader to help communicate the tone and message?
    • What do you think the message of this cartoon is? What is Dr. Seuss trying to say?
  • Have students read the remainder of the section ''Dr. Seuss and World War II''. Pause here and discuss this.
    • Were your analyses of the political cartoon correct?
    • Given what we know about World War II, when do you think this cartoon was created? Before or after the USA formally joined the war? Why?
    • With hindsight, we know how this war turned out. How do you think someone at the time would have felt about this political cartoon? Why?
  • Ask students to finish reading the lesson.
  • You may test student understanding with the lesson quiz.

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