Propaganda Games & Activities

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

A lesson in propaganda can be much more than memorizing techniques and strategies. Read this lesson to learn classroom activities that help bring propaganda to life for your students.

Persuasion is All Around You

You are watching your favorite TV show when on comes a commercial for the new hot video game. Or you're listening to a new hit song on the radio when a snappy jingle for ice cream rings out. While on your drive, you see a billboard advertising an expensive watch.

You can use these everyday events to introduce the idea of propaganda to your students. Propaganda consists of persuasive material, usually biased, that is used to promote a cause, idea or perspective. Propaganda can be used to sell products or persuade the public.

Once you make this definition known to your students, you will likely move on to discussing various strategies involved in propaganda. These could include big names (experts or celebrities), bandwagon (everyone else is doing it), logos (logic, numbers, data), pathos (appeal to emotion), and Kairos (sense of urgency). All of these terms could be used in the following activities and games for a propaganda unit.

Activities

Let's look at some propaganda classroom activities. The first involves using real-world examples to show how propaganda can apply to your students. If any political elections are occurring at the time you are teaching this unit, find examples of those political ads. This can be especially worthwhile if a presidential election is near. Use TV commercials, flyers, or any other form of ad you can find that pushes some sort of political agenda. Have your students identify the strategy of propaganda used in each example. More advanced students could go on to explain how effective each example is.

Secondly, you can create a propaganda scavenger hunt. Have your students observe commercials online or on TV, listen to ads on the radio, find ads in magazines or copy down billboard messages. Set a certain number to be the goal for this activity. For instance, each student has one week to find two examples of each strategy you reviewed in class. Your students could then present all the examples they have found to the class.

A final classroom activity brings out the more creative side of your students. Assign your students to invent their own piece of political or commercial advertising. You can allow them to choose their own topic or provide a list of possible choices. Another option is to have students choose an everyday classroom item for which to write a TV commercial. Students can work in groups to create the commercial. You can assign specific propaganda strategies to each group, or allow students to choose their own strategies. Adjust the expectations according to your class's abilities and let the creativity roll!

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