Submitted by: Brianne Furstein

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this multi-day lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the role graphic art plays in modern advertising. Students will identify and understand the meaning of the terms headline, visual, copy, tagline, signature and layout as it applies to a print ad, and differentiate between different stylistic layouts.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Gain an appreciation of the role graphic art plays in modern advertising
  2. Identify and understand the meaning of the terms headline, visual, copy, tagline, signature and layout as it applies to a print ad
  3. Differentiate between different stylistic layouts


  • Smartboard/interactive whiteboard or computers with access to BrainPOP
  • Chart paper or bulletin/whiteboard to create/post a KWL chart
  • KWL chart from BrainPOP Educators
  • Magazines (make sure they are kid friendly)
  • Sharpies or other permanent markers (one per student)
  • Examples of real ads


headline; copy; visual; tagline; signature; layout


Pre-select a variety of advertisements that feature a headline, a visual, text/copy, a tagline, and a signature. Additionally, select ads that reflect the different style layouts: Ogilvy, top heavy, illustrated, single visual, Z formation, headline, and upside down.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. DAY 1: Ask students if the ads they have seen all looked alike. What was different about them? (Some had big pictures, some had longer headlines, etc.). What were the similarities? (Most had headlines, pictures, etc.).
  2. Explain that the similarities are all elements of something called graphic design. Elicit student responses to discover what they may already know about graphic design and fill in the K (know) section of the KWL chart from BrainPOP Educators (or make your own). Next, discuss what we would like to learn about graphic design and fill in the W (want to know) section of the KWL chart.
  3. Together, view the BrainPOP movie Graphic Design and take the review Quiz.
  4. Together, discuss what we've learned and fill in the L (learned) part of the chart.
  5. DAY 2: Tell students today they are going to expand upon their knowledge of graphic art as it pertains to advertising.
  6. Show students examples of ads and ask them to identify the various parts that they notice.
  7. Discuss the name and purpose of each element of these advertisements: The Visual: The visual is an illustration or photo that is used to capture the attention of the reader. This is a very eye catching element and can communicate a concept or feeling, or showcase a product and its benefits. The Headline: The headline supports the visual and should be less than ten words. It should also make the reader want to find out more. A headline can be serious or humorous, or create curiosity about the product. Typeface and color play a very important role in grabbing a reader’s attention and setting the tone of the ad. The copy: The copy supports the headline and generates interest. It can be used to emphasize customer benefits, or highlight what makes you different from the competition. Tagline: The idea is to create a memorable phrase that will sum up the tone of a brand or product, or to reinforce the audience's memory of a product. Example: Sprite uses “Obey Your Thirst,” as a tagline. Signature or contact information: This optional section includes a company logo and contact information such as a company website. Not all ads will have contact information on them.
  8. Ask students to use magazines to find an ad that features most (if not all) of these elements. Using a permanent marker, they should circle and label each section.
  9. Next, allow students to present their ads in small groups, explaining/reading each element.
  10. DAY 3: Today's part of the lesson will expand to include the layouts of different ads. Present an example of each of the following layouts for students to observe: Ogilvy Layout: Research indicates that readers typically look at Visual, Headline, Copy, and Signature (Advertisers name, contact information) in that order. Following this basic arrangement in an ad is called the Ogilvy after advertising expert David Ogilvy who used this layout formula for some of his most successful ads. Z Layout: Mentally impose the letter Z or a backwards S on the page. Place important items or those you want the reader to see first along the top of the Z. The eye normally follows the path of the Z, so place your "call to action" at the end of the Z. Headline layout: This layout features a very strong, creative headline. Although there may be a picture present, the focus is on the headline, which takes up the majority of space. Single Visual Layout: Although it is possible to use multiple illustrations in a single advertisement, one of the simplest and perhaps most powerful layouts uses one strong visual combined with a strong (usually short) headline plus optional additional text. Illustrated Layout: Use photos or other illustrations in an ad to: show the product in use; show the results of using the product or service; illustrate complicated concepts or technical issues; grab attention through humor, size, dramatic content. Top Heavy Layout:Lead the reader's eye by placing the image in the upper half to two-thirds of the space or on the left side of the space, with a strong headline before or after the visual, and then the supporting text. Upside Down Layout: If an ad is well-designed, it will look just as good upside down. So, turn it upside down, hold it out at arm's length, and see if the arrangement looks good. This does not mean that the ad should appear upside down in a magazine! All the previous layouts discusses can be “upside down layouts” if they were designed well.
  11. Ask students to look in magazines to find as many examples as they can for each type. Allow partner or small group collaboration.
  12. Present ads to the class.
  13. Create a class "book of advertising" or put ads on the wall under corresponding headings: Ogilvy, Z, Headline, etc.

Extension Activities:

BrainPOP's Vocabulary Worksheet and Related Reading also offer many extensions for this topic.