No Joke - My Voice Counts!

3, 4, 5

After comparing and contrasting different cartoons, the learner uses cartooning as a means of public voice about political and social issues. Students create cartoons with their own social or political messages.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period, plus time to create a cartoon

The learners will:

  • compare and contrast various cartoons.
  • connect the Core Democratic Values to the concept of public voice.
  • create an editorial cartoon.
  • projected copies of editorial and family fun cartoons (recent, handouts below, or primary source online
  • Student copies of handout: Venn Diagram
  • Projected copy of handout Core Democratic Values (Spanish version available)
  • Student copies of handout Editorial Cartoon Rubric (Spanish version available)
  • Paper or poster board
  • Various art supplies
  • Comic Creator at Read, Write, or
Home Connection 

Tell students to read editorial cartoons in the newspaper at home this week and discuss the meaning with their families.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show a cartoon from a recent funny paper, especially a non-political, fun cartoon. Ask students to describe what they observe using the five Ws. What is it? Who is it about? When was it created? Why was it created? Where might it be seen? Record the students’ responses on the board.

  2. Repeat this five-Ws discussion with an issue-related/editorial cartoon that is appropriate for your students' age.

  3. On the Venn diagram handout, sudents work with partners to organize the information recorded on the board and fill in their Venn diagrams comparing entertainment and editorial cartoons.

  4. Display or give students a handout of the Core Democratic Values. Read the CDVs together and discuss any unfamiliar terms. Ask students to reflect on how the CDVs and public voice are connected. Discuss which CDVs are evident when we use our public voice to try to bring about change. Recall why editorial cartoons are created and why people read them (as a public voice to bring attention to social/political issues).

  5. Tell the students that when they make a public statement, they are attempting to educate the public for the common good. For example, editorial cartoons about cleaning up the environment raise awareness of the issue and may cause more people to take action, therefore bringing about a social change. Because the change is for the common good, making an editorial cartoon may be a form of philanthropy.

  6. Brainstorm a list of social, environmental, or political issues that are important to the students. Record the students’ ideas on the board. Ask the students to choose one of these issues and make a statement about the chosen issue in an editorial cartoon.

  7. Pass out copies of the handout Editorial Cartoon Rubric. Each student uses art supplies and paper or poster board to create an editorial cartoon voicing a point on an issue. The students use the rubric as a quality guideline. Students use the writing process to write the concise sentence that goes with the cartoon. They revise and edit in response to suggestions on word choice.

    Display the finished cartoons throughout the school.


Assess student participation in whole-group discussions throughout the lesson. Assess student cartoons according to the Editorial Cartoon Rubric.

Cross Curriculum 

Each learner selects a social issue that he or she feels is important. The learner creates an editorial cartoon expressing his or her viewpoint on the selected issue. The cartoons are displayed throughout the school.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.3 Discuss the importance of personal virtue, good character, and ethical behavior in a democracy.
      2. Benchmark E.6 Identify and describe fundamental democratic principles.
      3. Benchmark E.9 Describe how philanthropic activities can bring about social change.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Make a connection between fundamental democratic principles and philanthropy.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.