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Editorial Cartoons in the Classroom

Adding Humor to Your Lessons

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Teachers know the value of a good laugh, but for many of us, adding humor to a lesson is tough.

Take me, for example. My students had complained about my not being funny enough, so, one afternoon, I searched Walden's for a good joke book. Although several helpful salesclerks and I had a great time, we finally gave up, agreeing that really funny jokes were inappropriate for the classroom.

Even if they aren't knee slappers, editorial cartoons can stimulate discussion and provide interesting writing topics.

Fortunately, students don't expect great humor in their lessons and they do respond quite well to cartoons. Adding cartoons to your lessons is now easier than ever because so many are available on the Internet. You will find them quickly using the resources gathered in Cartoons in the Classroom.

Activities and Worksheets for Studying Editorial Cartoons

  • Students study a particular cartoon and complete the handout, Understanding Editorial Cartoons. This allows them to show that they understand the subject matter depicted.
  • Students can study a particular cartoon and complete the handout, Analyzing Editorial Cartoons. This allows them to show that they have fully discovered the meaning behind the cartoon and the symbolism it uses.
  • Assign a project requiring students to list the cartoons they find on the Internet by URL, cartoonist and topic as shown in Cartoon Quest. Examples of topics you might use include point of view, cause and effect relationship, tone, or technique used for humor such as irony, exaggeration or pun.
  • Students can depict an issue by drawing their own cartoon on the handout, Capturing Meaning.
  • Students find or draw a cartoon to accompany a writing assignment.
  • An efficient approach to cataloging cartoons by topics would be to do it as a whole class activity. For example, if you gave the class the URL of The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, they would have access to portfolios of 14 cartoonists, each with at least ten cartoons. Partners could each be assigned a particular cartoonist, allowing the whole site to be categorized by topic in just a few periods.

For the Class Cartoonist

Send your budding cartoonists to the following resources:

Advice for Beginners at Daryl Cagle's Pro Cartoonists and

Written by Diane Walker
Updated by Melissa Kelly

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