Ohio State nav bar

The Great Depression

Lesson Plan

By Catherine Means

Download cartoons and descriptions

Download entire lesson plan

Grade Level, Content standards that the lesson fulfills, and benchmarks:

Social Studies/History D9 Please note-this lesson is designed for a high school resource World Studies class for students with learning disabilities.

Assess the global impact of post-World War 1 economic, social and political turmoil including: 1. disarmament; 2. World-Wide Depression; 3. Colonial Rebellion; 4. the rise of militarism and totalitarian states in Europe and Asia.

Estimate duration of lesson:

Two (2) days

Learning objectives:

Through the use of editorial cartoons, students will be able to determine/understand the artist message in presented cartoons. This will be decided through classroom discussion with instructor and post-assessment assignment.


Day 1

1. What is your favorite cartoon and why?

2. What do you think is the definition of the term “Editorial cartoon?” What is their importance and where do you find them? (Share explanation/history of editorial cartoons.)

3. Brief review of what life was like during the Great Depression. Remind students that most Americans had no work, were hungry, and had no hope for their future.

4. Share the cartoon “A Wise Economist Asks a Question.”

What is title of this cartoon? What is the squirrel saying? The man? Why do you think he is saying this? Was the man really unwise?

5. Share the cartoon by Harry Westerman

What do you see? Who are the characters in this cartoon? Who is the man with the umbrella? Who is the man without an umbrella? What does the rain represent? What do you think the artist was trying to say?

Day 2

Students will be provided with art supplies and asked to develop a cartoon based on something they agree/disagree with in our school.


Class discussion will begin with brainstorming.

Instructional Steps:

Day 1

·         Brainstorming

·         Review

·         Discussion

·         Review of new material

Day 2

·         Short review of previous day materials

·         Application of instruction


Students will be asked to design a cartoon concerning an issue they see in our school with which they agree/disagree. Examples could be: use of cell phones, wearing hats in class, personal computers in the classroom, dress code, etc.

Materials needed by teachers:

Two cartoons, art paper, markers/colored pencils/crayons

Materials needed by students:

Everything will be provided by the classroom teacher.

Extension activities:

Future editorial cartoons can be used as bellringer activities.