Propaganda - Social Studies - Play

Learning Objective

Remember and a second game called Symbol Quest are both designed to make students aware of visual symbols and of strategies of persuasion in propaganda across different cultures. These small group card games provoke students to use their visual literacy skills to carefully observe and analyze the graphic design strategies employed in print propaganda. The posters included in the card deck are examples from The Wolfsonian collection of historical propaganda employed by different countries during the early twentieth century.

Basic Strategy

The card deck may be used to play two different games. Remember is a game of “concentration,” requiring players to match pairs of identical images. Symbol Quest is a game where players create sets of cards containing like or similar images or symbols; e.g. cards containing flags or depicting women and children. Sets can also be created by matching types of propaganda strategies, such as direct address, fear mongering, or stereotyping.

Detailed Teacher Instructions are included in the Remember game materials below.

  1. Once the game is completed, have all the students return to their seats in the circle for a debrief.
  2. This is an opportunity for you to guide the students’ reflection and prepare them for the literature you plan to study or have already studied.
  3. Guiding Questions (Adapt depending on how you approach the lesson below.)
      • The images on the game cards are from a number of different countries and contain multiple languages. Yet, the visual symbols that are used are often not different, such as a hand, a flag, or a group of people like soldiers or children. Why do you think the symbols are similar for different countries?
      • What other types of symbols do you see repeated?
      • In what ways are the symbols being used?
      • What might be the specific appeal for each symbol?
      • Do they intend to mean the same thing to the all viewers?
      • Are there certain segments of the population or certain types of people that might view the symbols differently? If so, in what way(s) would the meaning or the intended purpose of the symbols change or take on new definitions?
      • Color can be used to create a mood or feeling. Which colors do you tend to see associated with certain moods in the propaganda posters?
      • How are these colors used? Provide specific examples.
      • Are any of the colors used ironically?
      • In which examples do you feel the strategies of propaganda were used most successfully?
      • How were the strategies, colors, symbols, words, and typefaces used together?
      • How effective do you believe they were in their purpose? Why were they effective?