This lesson is part of our curriculum unit The U.S. Role in a Changing World.


Students will:

  • Interpret political cartoons about current international issues.
  • Identify the message and point of view of the cartoons.
  • Consider alternative opinions about issues portrayed in political cartoons.

Recommended Reading

This lesson is designed to be completed after students have read Part II of the reading in the Student Text of The U.S. Role in a Changing World.


Political Cartoons
Slideshow of Political Cartoons
Political Cartoon Techniques (Optional)

In the Classroom

1. Getting Started: Divide the class into groups of three or four. Distribute the “Political Cartoons” handout to each student. You may choose to print out copies of the political cartoons or to project the “Slideshow of Political Cartoons.” Have the students discuss each cartoon in their groups and answer the questions provided. As an alternative, you may wish to divide the cartoons among the groups and have students report back to the class on their assigned cartoons.

Optional: You may wish to challenge your students to complete a more in-depth analysis of the cartoons. Before distributing the cartoons to students, distribute “Political Cartoon Techniques” and review the techniques as a class. Distribute or project the cartoons. In addition to answering the questions that accompany the cartoons, ask students to identify at least two techniques that each cartoonist used and explain what ideas are conveyed through each technique.

Note: It may be helpful to analyze one cartoon together as a class before sending students off in their groups.

2. Drawing Connections: Select several cartoons from the collection. Discuss how the points of view of the cartoonists are reflected in the cartoons. Were the students surprised by any of the perspectives in the cartoons? Which cartoons did students find most interesting? Did students think that any of the cartoons were difficult to interpret? Which ones? Why? Do students agree or disagree with the perspectives of any particular cartoons?

Extra Challenges

1. Have the students draw cartoons presenting their own views on a specific issue or about the U.S. role in the world more broadly.

2. Choose two cartoons in the collection that present opposing views. How do the messages differ?

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