Political Cartoon Analysis

By: Amy Samuels



Students will perform research for political cartoons and analyze their features and significance. Web browsing will be implemented as well as spiral-question analysis in order to complete the first segment of the activity. Further assessment includes a brief writing assignment.

Keywords: political cartoon analysis


Students will be able to research various political cartoons within an online database in order to locate a content-relevant illustration.
Students will be able to identify various features of political cartoons in order to gather evidence for significant issues surrounding the social studies content.
Students will be able to analyze the various ideals expressed within political cartoons that align with social studies content in order to answer a brief writing prompt.


American History
Standard 1: Use research and inquiry skills to analyze American history using primary and secondary sources. (SS.912.A.1)
World History
Standard 1: Utilize historical inquiry skills and analytical processes. (SS.912.W.1)
Civics and Government
Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and purposes of government, law, and the American political system. (SS.912.C.1)


Academic Preparation

The teacher should:
-students should have access to laptops or computers in the classroom or media center
-locate a popular political cartoon that students are familiar with in order to model the analysis process
-place the website on the whiteboard/chalkboard in order to allow accuracy and ease in arriving on the website


1. The teacher should find a political cartoon that students are familiar with or may view in the current lesson. Project this image on an LCD projector, ELMO, or allow students to view via poster or textbook.
2. Provide a live modeling experience for the students using the actual cartoon analysis worksheet provided.
3. Allow students a question-and-answer session pertaining to the analysis process.
4. Place students in pairs and notify them that they are to both assume role of cartoon analyzer and recorder.
5. Write the website (see web link in resources) in the front of the room, allow appropriate wait-time so students may arrive and explore the site.
6. Provide 2 or more blank cartoon analysis worksheets to each pair.
7. Monitor students from a distance as to not interrupt their analysis session or make students self-conscious, but enough to answer any technology questions. Depending on student learning levels, it is not advisable to provide too much feedback and explanation for their chosen cartoons. Allow the students to interpret on their own.
8. When enough time is given for students to locate, analyze, and complete their worksheet, the teacher may prompt a share out session using a musical chair format:
i. Allow half of the class to move around the room for 5 seconds or find another pair within the room.
ii. Discussion and explanation will begin surrounding the political cartoons that the “hosting” pair has chosen. The worksheet may be used as a guideline to discussion.
iii. After 2 minutes of sharing, the other half of the room will find a pair to host a discussion of their political cartoons. After all groups have discussed their cartoons, share out session has ended.

9. Afterwards, the teacher may provide the writing prompt for the students to complete individually pertaining to any of the political cartoons of their choice. The amount of time given for students is up to the teacher’s discretion.
i. Based on the political cartoon that you chose, write an editorial-style essay to the community viewing this cartoon. Your editorial should contain your own opinion as to whether or not the depiction in the political cartoon is accurate or biased. Be sure to contain features of the cartoon and issues surrounding the event depicted throughout your editorial.


The first assessment used during this activity will be informally implemented by the instructor through hearing the unique responses during the political cartoon analysis modeling activity. Students should offer responses related to what is in the cartoon. Students should fully understand every feature on the cartoon analysis worksheet.
The second assessment will be casually observing students balancing cooperation in their pairs between discussions of the cartoons and recording data.
The third assessment will be casually listening to pairs after they move around the room and share their chosen cartoons with each other.
The formal assessments will be to collect the cartoon analysis worksheets and editorials in order to make sure the depiction of the cartoon and features contained within were captured.

Estimated Lesson Duration

1hr 50min


  • Florida Center for Instructional Technology
  • U.S. National Archives & Records Administration


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