Photographs or political cartoons can be used to generate interest in a topic, recall earlier experiences, reinforce learning, enrich and encourage reading, develop observation and critical-thinking skills, and clarify values.


  1. (Optional): You may want to analyze one or more images together with your students before you ask them do analyze one on their own.
  2. Ask students to make a list of what they see in the photo or cartoon, including captions, titles and/or labels.
  3. Ask students to describe what is happening in the image.
  4. Ask students to analyze and interpret the images.
    • Are there any objects or people that seem to be exaggerated?
    • Are there any symbols? If so, what do you think they mean?
    • If there are people or figures shown, are they named? If not, what do you think they represent?
    • What does this image remind you of? Can you think of events or news stories that are similar? Do these images or issues relate to your community in any way?
  5. Ask students to evaluate the message.
    • In your opinion, what point is the photographer trying to make? What is the cartoonist’s message? What elements of the photo or cartoon give you that impression?
    • Do you agree with the point of view of the photographer or cartoonist? Do you agree with the message? Why or why not?
    • What, if anything, should be done about the problem portrayed in the photo or cartoon? Who should do it?
  6. Ask students to create a response to the photo or cartoon. Options include:
    • Create a cartoon (or describe an imaginary photograph) that represents an opposing point of view or an alternative message.
    • Create a cartoon (or photograph) that more accurately represents your viewpoint.
    • What images, labels, captions, or titles support your ideas?
  7. For additional strategies and exercises, refer to this worksheet from the National Archives and Records Administration.