The Power to Change

The power to change

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Use art to make a point with a political cartoon.

  • 1.

    Is a picture worth a thousand words? Use art to make a point with a political cartoon.

  • 2.

    Ask students to explore a variety of political cartoons and to discuss ways to interpret the messages in this form of visual communication. What current issues are being raised in the political cartoons? How can the artist’s point of view be determined? In what ways are political cartoons like editorials? How does art have the power to change people’s opinions and behaviors?

  • 3.

    Ask each student to create a political cartoon that makes a point about the power of recycling or about the risks of pollution. Remind them that political cartoons are carefully designed illustrations that are persuasive and show a strong point of view. Encourage them to use color in their political cartoons.

  • 4.

    Display student work throughout the school.


  • LA: Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
  • LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • LA: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
  • LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
  • SCI: Construct scientific claims for how increases in the value of water, mineral, and fossil fuel resources due to increases in population and rates of consumption have sometimes led to the development of new technologies to retrieve resources previously thought to be economically or technologically unattainable.
  • SCI: Construct scientific claims about the impacts of human activities on the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.
  • SCI: Construct arguments about how engineering solutions have been and could be designed and implemented to mitigate local or global environmental impacts.
  • SS: Observe and speculate about social and economic effects of environmental changes and crises resulting from phenomena such as floods, storms, and drought.
  • SS: Identify and describe factors that contribute to cooperation and cause disputes within and among groups and nations.
  • VA: Apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in artworks and use the sills gained to solve problems in daily life.
  • VA: Compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences.
  • VA: Communicate ideas regularly at a high level of effectiveness in at least one visual arts medium.


  • Encourage students to look for political cartoons in their local newspaper, in “The New Yorker” magazine and online. Suggest that they research the work of famous political cartoonists such as Tony Auth.
  • Near the display of the students’ political cartoons, provide an opportunity for viewers’ written responses. Small dry erase boards and dry erase markers or crayons provide an opportunity for viewers to add comments and periodically refresh the board so others can comment.
  • Extend this lesson by asking students to examine editorials and letters to the editor for persuasive language. Invite them to write letters to the editor expressing their concern for the environment and to explain why the school is collecting used markers.