Ohio State nav bar

Teddy Roosevelt as the Face of American Imperialism

Lesson Plan

by: Suzanne Angle, August, 2011

Grade Level/Content Standard:

Grade 10, History (5)

Estimated duration of lesson:

One class period (42 mins.)

Learning objectives:

  • Students will collaboratively examine and analyze editorial cartoons focusing on Theodore Roosevelt and the subject of American Imperialism.
  • Students will identify and explain the intended message of the cartoons and gauge the accuracy of the content.


Students will be grouped and asked to review a set of editorial cartoons that include President Theodore Roosevelt and address in varying ways acts of American imperialism during Roosevelt's administration. Students will use the cartoons to examine U.S. and foreign impressions of imperialism as well as impressions of Roosevelt as a political figure.


The topics of imperialism, the Roosevelt Corollary, and Roosevelt's presidency should have already been introduced. Teachers should use these questions to facilitate discussion and review of the topics:

a. What adjectives, or descriptive words, come to mind when we think of Teddy Roosevelt?

b. How did Roosevelt feel about U.S. expansion and the U.S. role as a power in our hemisphere?

c. Given what we know of American society at the time, how did Americans feel about U.S. expansion and our position in world affairs?

Instructional steps:

1. As a whole-class activity, discuss the pre-assessment questions.

2. Divide the class into 6 mixed-ability groups.

3. Distribute a copy of the Editorial Cartoon Analysis Worksheet to each group, and have groups designate one member to be the scribe. Then, distribute one of the six cartoons to each of the groups.

4. Have each group complete the worksheet based upon their cartoon. Teachers should circulate around the room to answer questions and gauge the activity and engagement levels.

5. Once the activity is completed, each group will present their cartoon and analysis using either the SmartBoard or a transparency of the cartoon. They should be encouraged to identify and label the various components of the cartoon that support or explain their analysis.

6. Students should be encouraged to ask questions of their peers and to comment upon the cartoons.


Following the activity, teachers should ask questions such as the following:

a. Do these cartoons portray Roosevelt and imperialism in a positive or negative light?

b. If you were a citizen of the time, do you think you would have been influenced by these cartoons? Why or why not?

c. What do you think it takes for an editorial cartoon such as one of these to be persuasive?

Materials needed by teachers:

Cartoons (attached) and Cartoon Analysis Worksheet (attached, to be copied for students), SmartBoard and accompanying software or transparencies of the cartoons (for teacher/student presentation)

Materials needed by students:


Extension activities:

Students will write an editorial to accompany any of the 6 cartoons on a fictitious publication editorial page. The editorial may be opposing the cartoon, in an effort to “balance” the editorial page, or it may be in support of the cartoon.

List of cartoons and other primary sources: