Editorial Cartoons of WWII in Europe

Lesson Plan

Ohio Standards

Grade 9: History 10B  Analyze the causes of WWII including: Axis expansion
Grade 9: Social Studies Skills 1  Detect bias and propaganda in primary and secondary sources of information
Grade 10: History 7  Analyze the impact of U.S. participation in WWII, with emphasis on the change from isolationism to international involvement including the reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Duration of Lesson 

Two class periods

Learning Objectives

  • Students will collaboratively analyze the content of editorial cartoons that focus on the rise on Hitler's dominance of Europe.
  • Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the chronology of WWII in Europe by placing the cartoons in an order that shows a progression of WWII in Europe.
  • Students will be able to determine the content of a cartoon and its perspective.
  • Students will interpret a cartoon.


Working in small groups, students will analyze and evaluate political cartoons that deal with WWII in Europe. Through discussion, students will select cartoons that they think best represent significant ideas or concepts of WWII in Europe. They will then place their selections in chronological order. The final grouping will be presented to the whole class.


  • Editorial cartoons handouts
  • Poster board and 3x5 cards
  • Markers, glue, tape and scissors
  • Pens and pencils and paper for note taking
  • Cartoon analysis worksheet


Teachers should use the following topics in guided pre-lesson discussion.
  1. U.S. viewpoints and perspectives on involvement in Europe
  2. Military history of WWII in Europe
  3. Germany and Hitler's start of European military advancement in Europe
  4. Discuss the symbols and characters that were relevant to the time period

Instructional Steps

  1. Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4 and distribute the political cartoon packets.
  2. Have the students select 4-6 cartoons that they agree best represent the critical ideas and concepts of WWII in Europe.
  3. Have the students place the cartoons in order by time period.
  4. Have the students construct a poster sequencing the cartoons they selected.
  5. Have students title their poster and make a one sentence commentary to go with each cartoon.
  6. Students will then display their posters and explain their selections and sequencing to the class.


  • Each student will take one political cartoon out of their packets and using a cartoon analysis worksheet, edited by the teacher, analyze their cartoon in context to WWII in Europe, and turn in their completed worksheet.
  • Students will make a collage, timeline or poster of WWII in Europe using a packet of political cartoons.
  • Have the whole class discuss the usefulness of this activity in terms of an understanding of Europe in WWII. Ask what they learned from the activity.
  • Have students complete an exit ticket on a 3x5 card identifying 3 specific concepts or topics that they learned about WWII in Europe.

Extension Activities

  • Identify symbols and characters found in the political cartoons.
  • Determine if they are used today.


The Race For Berlin
The Race For Berlin
The Epic of Stalingrad
The Epic of Stalingrad
As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap
As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap
V-E Delivery Room
V-E Delivery Room
Splendid Isolation
Splendid Isolation
With the Greatest of Ease?
With the Greatest of Ease?
The Way of a Stork
The Way of a Stork



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