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Activity Overview


The era of Napoleon’s domination in France and Europe also saw the continued development of mass media, specifically newspapers. The cartoons used in this activity were all published in European newspapers in the early 19th century and they serve as amazing primary sources. The cartoons used in this example come from the The Brown University Center for Digital Scholarship: Napoleonic Satires. The symbols and events depicted in each cartoon require a solid understanding of Napoleon’s role in French history.

In this activity, students will both analyze the messages of each political cartoon and create their own that tackles a current social/political/economic issue. Students should explain the symbols identified by red arrows in each of the cartoons. Both the storyboard above and a blank template will be copied into your account, and you can edit the examples as desired and add the full storyboard to the assignment.


Extended Activity

This activity can be extended in a number of ways. Students could locate and analyze current political cartoons/satires. They could also build a storyboard collection of political cartoons or satires from each unit of study, e.g. the Industrial Revolution, or World War I.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group



Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that explains the message behind French political cartoons and create your own cartoon.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the first column, write a caption for the political cartoon in the title and write a description of it.
  3. In the second column, write your interpretation of the cartoon.
  4. In the third column, create a political cartoon in the same vein for a modern day social/political/economic issue.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.


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