Lesson 1: Ad Awareness

This lesson invites students to explore what advertising is, what ads do, and who's responsible for the messages in ads.

Students will define the term advertising and identify types of ads.

Classroom poster, magazines or newspapers (from home or your school library), Worksheet 1, Bonus Activity 1


1. Tell students they will be learning about advertising. Explain that advertising is a tool used to get people to want to buy something.

2. Explain that the main reason ads are created is to sell something. Ask students to think about where they see ads. Direct students to the classroom poster to help them think of places where ads appear.
(Examples: television, magazines, newspapers, billboards, the Internet, and movie theaters.)

3. Explain that advertising gives people information to help them decide what to buy. Explain that advertisers talk about “special features” of their products to convince people to buy them. Advertising also helps pay for the cost of programs on television, radio, and online. Advertisers pay money to television networks and other companies to place or run their ads.

4. Write the word consumer on the board. Explain that a consumer is someone who buys and uses products and services. To be smarter consumers, students need to know how to understand the ads they see or hear. Direct students to the poster again. Ask for a volunteer to read aloud the three key questions at the top. By answering these questions, students will better understand advertising.

5. Tell students that ads are created to convince people to think or do something in particular. The company responsible for the ad wants us to see things from their point of view. Ask students to imagine an ad they’ve seen and think about the point of view of the company responsible for the ad. For example, a sneaker company’s point of view might be that you can’t be a real athlete without special shoes—their shoes. Ask students to think about whether they agree with an advertiser’s point of view.

6. Tell students that advertisers are required by law to tell the truth, and that most advertisers work hard to do this. At the same time, the government does not review ads before they run. That’s why it’s important for students to ask the three key questions when they see ads. One government agency works to protect consumers from being hurt by advertising. This agency is called the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC. One way the FTC protects consumers is by educating them about advertising and how it works.

7. Divide students into groups of four. Give each group a selection of newspapers and magazines, or use ads from the Ad Library.

8. Distribute copies of Worksheet 1. Instruct each group to discuss their ads and answer the questions on the worksheet. Ask each group to present its ads to the class.



9. Distribute copies of Bonus Activity 1. Assign students to find an ad at home and complete the activity as homework.

Online Extension:

10. Access Lesson 1A: Online Advertising. Use this lesson to discuss online ads with your students.