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Lesson Plan Political Cartoons: Finding Point of View

A careful analysis of political cartoons can provide a glimpse into key moments of U.S. political history. In this activity, students will closely examine political cartoons about the Stamp Act; make inferences about the political, social, and economic situations depicted therein; and offer informed speculations concerning each creator’s point of view.


Students will be able to:

  • Analyze political cartoons.
  • Identify the ways in which point of view can be detected in political cartoons.

Time Required

Two 50-minute class periods

Lesson Preparation


The following materials are used during extension activities:


Before leading students through the exploration process, teachers should make themselves familiar with the following Library of Congress resources:

Additional Resources

Lesson Procedure

Activity One (One Class Period)

  1. Begin class with a discussion about political cartoons, based around the following questions and possible responses:
    • What is a political cartoon?
      A political cartoon is a cartoon that makes a point about a political issue or event.
    • What topics do political cartoons address?
      Could include economics, politics, social issues/events, prominent individuals.
    • How can you tell what the message of the political cartoon is?
      By observing and analyzing the images and text.
    • What is a thesis?
      A main idea put forward for discussion, such as in a paragraph, an essay, or a cartoon.
    • What is point of view?
      A person’s belief or judgment on an issue.
    • How might point of view affect a political cartoonist?
      A cartoonist will be guided by his or her point of view. Cartoonists might only express their own beliefs on an issue, or they might take the point of view of others into consideration.
  2. Introduce the concept of primary source analysis to the students. Distribute the Primary Source Analysis Tool (PDF 79 KB) to each student and explain that they will use this handout to analyze a political cartoon. Tell them that the key to primary source analysis isn’t finding the correct answer, but asking the most effective questions.

    Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher’s guide Analyzing Political Cartoons to focus and prompt analysis and discussion. Distribute or display a recent political cartoon on an issue of current interest. Model for students the process of inquiry-based primary source analysis using questions from each column as a guide. Students should record the responses on their individual handout.

    Lead students through a discussion of the point of view expressed in this cartoon.
  3. Have students create a political cartoon that communicates a different point of view than the one they analyzed.

Activity Two (One Class Period)

  1. Have students pair up and share the political cartoons they created. Remind students of the primary source analysis process they went through previously, and ask them to discuss each other’s cartoons for five minutes. Distribute the Primary Source Analysis Tool handout, and ask students to discuss each other’s cartoons.
  2. Explain to students that they will be analyzing a historical political cartoon and thinking about the political cartoonist’s point of view. Distribute “The repeal, or the funeral of Miss Ame=Stamp” (PDF, 863 KB) to each student, along with the Primary Source Analysis Tool (PDF, 79 KB). Have students perform a primary source analysis on the cartoon, recording their responses on their individual copies of the handout. Ask students to evaluate the cartoon to examine the cartoonist’s point of view. If students need prompting use questions selected from the teacher's guide Analyzing Political Cartoons to focus and prompt analysis and discussion.

    Note: If you feel students need additional information on the Stamp Act, you might review the relevant material in this Library of Congress exhibition, John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations.
  3. Discuss the two handouts once students complete them, or after collecting them, evaluating them, and returning them to students.


Lesson Evaluation

  • Assess student-drawn political cartoons for evidence of student understanding of the ways in which point of view can affect how a political cartoon is created.
  • Assess the primary source analysis tool for evidence of student understanding of how to analyze political cartoons.
  • Teacher observation of critical thinking.


Terri Bramhall