Propaganda Techniques Activities

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

Propaganda is used daily by governments and corporations to change the way people think. In these activities, middle and high school students will analyze and create propaganda material.

Teaching About Propaganda

With the focus on critical thinking in the 21st-century curriculum, conversations about propaganda fit into most language arts and history curricula throughout middle and high school. In this resource, you will find a variety of activities that expose your students to different propaganda techniques and allow students to analyze how these techniques are actually used. There are opportunities for individual and group work throughout these activities. Created with both middle and high school students in mind, you may want to tweak the length of some activities for the needs of your students.

Learning by Doing with Propaganda

In this activity, students will be assigned one type of propaganda. The activity works best when used shortly after students have learned the basic definition of propaganda. Students will make a flyer on a sheet of copy paper that defines, describes, and shows an example of the propaganda technique. Begin by assigning students one propaganda technique. If your curriculum has a specific list reference that, but otherwise, this is a good place to start:

  • bandwagon
  • card stacking
  • glittering generalities
  • name calling
  • plain folks
  • testimonial
  • transfer.

Students should research their type of propaganda and create a flyer that includes the following:

  • name of propaganda technique
  • definition of technique
  • description of how the technique is used
  • an image

The image should be an example of how the technique is used. For example, if a student has the bandwagon technique, the image could illustrate how almost all advertisers use some type of propaganda. After students have finished, you may want to hang some of the posters in your classroom as a way to display students work.

  • Materials Needed: Copy paper, coloring materials

Analyzing Commercials (Group Project)

For this activity, students will break into small groups to look at a collection of commercials and identify the types of propaganda used. Begin by putting students in groups of 4-5. Then, show one commercial to the class. You can look for commercials on many online platforms, but a great place to look for a wide variety is commercials from the Super Bowl.

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