Presidential Campaign Ads Lesson Plan

A lesson plan for language arts and social studies


Check out the lyrics and more for our presidential election process video.

Flocabulary recently released five new civics songs, including a presidential election video. The video includes footage from famous campaign ads. This lesson plan requires students to examine persuasive language in political campaign ads, and can be used in both a social studies and language arts class.

Presidential Election Lesson Plan

Objective: Students will analyze and identify modes of persuasion in campaign ads.

1. Have students watch Flocabulary’s Presidential Election video and click on info boxes to learn more. For the first viewing, ask students to focus on the process of becoming president.

2. Ask students to discuss the following:

  • How do we decide who we want to vote for?
  • What are some things that might influence us to vote for a candidate?
3. Have students refer to the lines from the Presidential Election song:
Ask supporters for cash to run the ads,
be a gladiator, stay on the attack.

Explain that campaign ads can be incredibly expensive, so candidates have to be very persuasive to make good use of the money spent. Also explain that candidates have to “stay on the attack” because the other candidate(s) will be constantly looking for any weakness. At this point, introduce or review the three forms of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos.

  • ethos – how much you trust and identify with the speaker
  • pathos – your emotional connection with the speaker
  • logos – the speaker’s factual and logical points

4. Replay the Flocabulary Presidential Election video. Explain to students that much of the footage comes from campaign ads. Next, play a few campaign ads for the students, and have them take notes on examples of ethos, pathos and logos in each ad. Youtube is a great resource for political ads. Here are some that might be of interest:

“I Like Ike” is Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign ad.

John F. Kennedy had a catchy jingle for his 1960 campaign ad.

Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy Girl” was only broadcast once on national TV before being pulled for its controversial nature.

Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign focused on optimism in “It’s Morning in America.”

George H.W. Bush’s 1988 attack ad against Michael Dukakis

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disputed John Kerry’s military service in a series of ads in 2004.

President Obama’s 2012 campaign ad makes an example of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comments.

5. After viewing the political ads, ask your students to review the examples of persuasive speech that they found. Ask students to describe how images played into the modes of persuasion.

Extension Activities:

– Watch the Political Parties video and split the class into political parties. Have the groups create their own campaign ads. This is a great opportunity for cooperative learning and technology in the classroom.

– Examine any figurative language used in campaign ads. This is an opportunity to discuss euphemism, hyperbole and more.

Like the Presidential Election video? Get hundreds more like it with a two-week free trial to Flocabulary.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks I look for more with kiddos in a special school who feel little connection!

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