Advertising Unit for Homeschool

by Jimmie Lanley on September 7, 2011

sprite with ad book

Sprite With That Goofy Look

I recently took Sprite through a three week course about advertising. This fits into language arts under media literacy and touches on propaganda, persuasion, and rhetoric. Regardless of where it would fit into a standard scope and sequence, being able to evaluate advertising is a life skill that everyone needs to master.

advertising unit book and notebook

She used her pseudonym — Sprite — on the cover! I don’t know why.

For a spine, we used Understanding Advertising published by Prufrock Press. (Unfortunately it seems this title is unavailable at Prufrock and at Amazon.)

I was pleased to see Sprite catch on to the various methods of persuasion and even call them out when we were watching a movie preview during family movie night.  Being able to name the tactic used by the advertiser gives her power to objectively evaluate the claims and make good choices as a consumer. (It is also a practical stepping stone to studying logical fallacies.)

She did a combination of lapbooking/notebooking for this study, but everything was bound with the Pro-click binding system. (Thanks, Barb!) Here are some photos from the notebook.

advertising notebook ad appeals close advertising notebook newspaper graph

advertising notebook sample ad advertising notebook another ad

advertising notebook forms of mass media advertising advantages

advertising notebook history of advertising advertising notebook

advertising audiences using proclick08

A lot of what we did was to read about advertising methods and the look for them in actual magazine, newspaper, and television ads. Yes! As a part of this study, I asked Sprite to watch television and make notes about the appeals used in commercials. She was so funny to listen to as she complained about all the pharmaceuticals and cheesy persuasive appeals. I am glad that she can watch television with a critical eye and ear. (We do not watch a lot of television. Thankfully it is not our habit, and we don’t have cable to entice us.)

Free Online Resources About Advertising

Have you ever done a study of advertising in your homeschool? How did it turn out?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

lee September 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

I love pointing out to my kids the tricks of advertising and packaging. Unfortunately you can point it out in the news media too. Propaganda is everywhere!


Cindy September 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

Great, great study! I used to teach a unit like this to my middle school students…always a favorite. Now you might challenge her to invent her own “product” and use at least two advertising propaganda techniques to write a commercial and “sell” it to you. You could make us a video and see how well people react to it…the consumers. 😉


Barb-Harmony Art Mom September 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

Thanks for the link to the Practical Money unit…this will fit in with our economics plans perfectly. Glad you are finding ways to use your ProClick binder. 🙂

Great job Sprite!


annie b September 7, 2011 at 11:23 am

Great! My kids are very interested marketing and advertising. They are high school age. Were there any other books you can recommend to use as a “spine” for an older age group?


Frank Baker September 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

Tons of ad links, resources, lesson plans and more on the Media Literacy Clearinghouse ad pages


Sharla September 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Great idea for a unit study! She will look at all media differently from now on and it’s a great opportunity for her to practise her writing skills too.


Mary September 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Very cool! I just pinned this on Pinterest 🙂


Helen September 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

What a fab idea :0) So useful too. I was just having a conversation with a friend today about how easy it is for people, especially kids, to be made to believe that the things they see advertised are essential to their lives. This is a great way to give them the tools they need to see through all the hype.
Thank you :0)


Ami September 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I think my long commentaries as we pass billboards probably count as some form of education on advertising.

When I was a classroom teacher, I taught a short unit about advertising; I always had a lot of fun with it. Maybe I should suggest it for a co-op class. 🙂

Anyway, tell Sprite she has a great notebook! 🙂 Ami


alecat September 8, 2011 at 5:00 am

What a fun topic, and I love how her notebook has come together!

Thank you for sharing those links. There are some there that will be very useful to us. 🙂

Catherine (aka alecat)


Dana Wilson September 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm

We did something similar when my children were Sprite’s age – and we took it one step further as they moved into the late middle and high school years. Not only do our children need to understand how advertisers attempt to manipulate them; they also need to understand that all authors write through their own personal biases. I taught our children that everyone has a worldview and it is important to be able to to identify that worldview and understand how it affects others’ writing. We found this especially provocative when watching movies because some of the messages were so subtle yet pervasive! Whenever we watched a movie in high school we discussed it afterwards or I might give them written questions to answer. There are many references that can be used to study worldview. This sounds as if it needs to turn into a blog post, lol. Anyway, thanks for your post, Jimmie. Great topic.


Melissa September 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm

That looks like a lot of fun!!!! Amazing what advertisers can do to brainwash us into thinking we *need* something new. 😉


Mary September 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I love it…. and as I look at Sprite in the first picture and then look to your sidebar and see your picture — wow — that’s a mother and daughter! So cute!


Ellen September 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

This is a great thing to study, and you make it so fun as usual. We hardly watch television so no ads there, but we do use the internet and get magazines, etc. When an ad comes on television for example, we practically always turn the sound on mute (it seems it’s always louder than the program you were watching) and ask the kids “okay, what are they trying to sell us?” Sometimes, you can’t tell with the sound off and other times, you can. My husband’s work is in the advertising/design arena – you always have to ask what is the person’s ‘worldview’ and their agenda as to what they want to you think. It used to be that a product was along the lines of: it works well and makes your life easier. Now the shift is more: you deserve it.


Giggly Girls September 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

This is just awesome!! I’m going to “pin” this for a future study. What a wonderful idea.


Alexandra September 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Fun unit study! My son likes to make silly parodies of those infomercials. I’ll have to look for that Pro-click system.


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