Close Reading: WWII Propaganda

This historical thinking lesson focuses on close reading of propaganda from WWII. The lesson is adapted from the American Social History Project, and all images come from their HERB database.  PBS has a useful list of propaganda techniques to accompany the lesson.

Essential Question:

What are the common themes and major differences between WWII propaganda from the United States, Great Britain, Germany and the Soviet Union?

Warm Up Reading:

Propaganda Techniques


Students will work in pairs or small groups using these graphic organizers to help guide their close reading and analysis of propaganda posters. Students can be assigned specific countries or specific posters to read and analyze. The lesson uses the jigsaw model, with students sharing their findings with the class. Students will identify common themes and compare and contrast posters from different countries.

Lesson Presentation:

Essay Assignment:

Students will choose one of the following options:

  • Compare and contrast two or more posters
  • Visual essay: pull together different images to tell a story; text should bridge the posters together
  • Historical writing: Historically contextualize the poster: Is there a particular event or person the poster refers to? What makes this a World War II poster? (Requires additional research)
  • Point of view writing: Pretend you are a person in the poster; what story do you want to convey?
  • Fiction writing: Make up a narrative describing the events leading up to or following the scene depicted in the poster
  • Responsive essay: elaborate on the emotions (anger, sadness, pride, etc.) that the poster(s) evoke

Featured Image: Adobe Spark

One Reply to “Close Reading: WWII Propaganda”

  1. Hello,

    I was wondering if there is a way to use your Nearpod lesson through my account? I wasn’t able to find it in the resources page on Nearpod.

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