Political Cartoon Analysis

Objective: Students will analyze political cartoons as primary sources in order to understand change in public perceptions, opinions, and political climate in Obama’s presidency. In groups of four, each group is expected to write a brief review external image arrow-10x10.png explaining their analysis.

Warm-up: Students will play “Symbology.” Teacher will show slides of political symbols/icons and students will identify the symbols and explain their meanings.

Students will participate in a brief Q&A on the following: What is a political cartoon? How does it differ from a comic? (Purpose: to inform vs. to entertain)


  • Librarian will show a comparison between two cartoons: Obama ’08 and Obama ’10.
  • Students will be divided by Mr. Arlen and Mr. Shelly into groups. All groups will search for political cartoons about Barack Obama, and each student will external image arrow-10x10.png two images within the time period they are assigned. Use the Political Cartoonists Index to find and external image arrow-10x10.png your cartoons. Print the cartoons you select for analysis. Time periods are as follows:

January 2008 through January 2009
February 2009 through December 2009
January 2010 through December 2011
2012 Campaign
Second term 2012--present

  • Teacher Librarian will distribute handout with essential questions.
  • Students will open a copy of the handout online as a Word document.
  • Please list the title of the cartoon on each handout. Use a separate form for each cartoon you analyze.
  • Students will structure and frame their analysis guided by the questions in the Cagle handout.
  • After analyzing the political cartoons, students will follow up with their teacher.

Obama "08

Obama '10

Resources:Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoonists Index; Cagle generated handout, Analyze the 'Toon
Assessment: Classroom teacher will follow up with large-group lesson discussion in next day's class.

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