All About Advertising: A Lesson Plan on Identifying a Dandy Ad!

Lesson Outline

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of persuasion and how ads make use of images and persuasive phrases to entice readers or viewers to buy their product. The lesson will focus specifically on sugary cereals, as this is a product commonly marketed to teens and young children. This art/advertising lesson plan is part of a four-part lesson plan on advertising so be sure to check out the other articles in this series below for more great ideas for your students!

Grade level: 9th grade (although could be adapted for higher grades)

Materials and Supplies

You will need to gather the following materials:

  • Magazines
  • Pocket dictionaries
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Two cereal boxes (one of healthy, whole grain cereal, and the other sugar-laden)
  • Large sheets of butcher paper (if needed)

Lesson Objectives

In the lesson, the students will:

  • Discuss the word “persuasion”
  • Identify components of advertisements that make them persuasive
  • Describe the appearance of cereal boxes in the context of their ability to persuade
  • Analyze an advertisement from a magazine

Knowledge Building Activities

Begin the lesson by passing out pocket dictionaries to the students and ask them to look up the word “persuasion”. Have a student read the definition out loud.

Lead the students in a brainstorming discussion by asking them “What makes a great ad?” Write their responses on a blackboard, whiteboard, or piece of butcher paper taped to the wall.

Continue the discussion by showing the two cereal boxes. Ask the students to compare and contrast the appearance of the cereal boxes by asking them questions about each cereal box such as: What can you tell me about the images on this cereal box? What are the persuasive phrases on this cereal box? Who do you think would be most likely to buy or want this cereal? What led you to this conclusion? What do these cereal boxes have in common with a great ad?

Have the students find a “dandy ad”: Pass out magazines, markers, and pens to the students and give them a worksheet with the following instructions:

  1. Choose a “dandy ad”
  2. Underline all of the ad’s persuasive phrases
  3. Summarize the ad’s message in one short and sweet sentence
  4. Summarize the ad’s “under” message, it’s “sneaky” message
  5. Explain what you believe the ad’s pictures are “saying” – use the ad’s “sneaky” message to help you.

Give students time to work. When they are finished, have each student show their “dandy ad” to the group and share what they have written.

Assessment Strategies

Formative assessment strategies:

The teacher should keep track of participation through eye contact made between the teacher and the students, and the students willingness to participate in the discussion. Also, the teacher should see if the students are paying attention to the presentation, as opposed to distracting each other by talking, teasing, etc. The teacher will assess the quality of the students’ responses to see if they understand the material presented. The teacher will use their responses as a measurement of their level of knowledge and comprehension of the material presented: Were their answers thoughtful and relevant to the subject at hand or were they unresponsive and confused?

Summative assessment strategies:

The worksheet will be assessed according to the following criteria, on a 4-point scale (4=advanced, 3=good, 2=satisfactory, 1=novice) based on these areas: The student used correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization; the responses are clear and logical; the student used their time productively and well.

This post is part of the series: All About Advertising Lesson Plan Series

This series includes a set of lesson plans that guide students in the process of thinking critically about advertising and its impact on their daily lives.
  1. How to Identify a Dandy Ad!
  2. Plan Your Dandy Ad! Promoting a Healthy & Positive Message
  3. All About Advertising: Creating a Dandy Ad!
  4. A Lesson on Artist Romare Bearden: Advertising As Art