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Create Your Own Ad

Extension Activity

These classroom activities correspond to the Don't Buy It game, Create Your Own Ad at

This lesson introduces students to the elements of advertising. How do you distinguish between a print ad and a photograph accompanying a magazine article? How do advertisers make sure that you glance at their ad? How is an ad created?


  • Analyze the format and structure of advertisements
  • Develop awareness of advertising techniques
  • Understand that media messages and products are composed of a series of separate elements


  • Magazine and newspaper ads
  • Magazine and newspaper articles
  • Art supplies (markers, glue, paper)


Define the concept of advertising for students. Advertising tells people about a product or service and it usually focuses on the good parts of it in an effort to get people to buy it.

The "Z" Form: select any of the ads to demonstrate how eyes track over an ad. According to one theory, if you learned to read left-to-right (English, Spanish, French, etc.), your eyes will scan over the page from left-to-right in a "Z" form unless a design element directs your attention elsewhere.

Z Form

Marketing firms use this theory to place ad elements where they will catch your eyes. There will be an element to lead your eyes in, something catchy in the middle, and the logo or message will frequently appear in the lower-middle area to the right.

Light Works: Human eyes tend to look towards a lighter color. Where are the lighter colors? Or is light color used to draw the eye to the product?

Turn the ad upside down. Where do your eyes go within the advertisement? Can you still notice the "Z" form?

The same techniques are used to place elements in newspaper or magazine stories and other non-ad print applications. Right-side placement is considered superior and right-page advertising frequently costs more than left-page advertising. In an article, the more compelling photos tend to appear on the right pages. Pass out ads and/or articles and ask students to find how the "Z" form is utilized. Note: the "Z" form appears over two-page spreads for many articles.

Ad or Article?: Pass out a variety of print materials to students. Include advertisements in which the words have been covered, as well as photographs from magazine articles. Discuss the images using the following questions as guidelines:

  • Is this image an ad (i.e., selling something) or a photograph?
  • What appeals or does not appeal to you in these images?
  • What are the differences between ads and articles? What is information and what is selling? Is it hard to tell the difference?

Create an Ad Campaign: Ask students to create an ad campaign for the school that encourages student activities rather than shopping. For example, design ads that encourage kids to participate in sports or volunteer in the community. Have students develop a theme, logo and consider a slogan or tagline


  • McREL Media Standards
    Standard 10: Understands the characteristics and components of the media. Level 2: (Grades 3-5)
    BENCHMARK: understands that media messages and products are composed of a series of separate elements (e.g., shots in movies, sections of a newspaper).
    BENCHMARK VOCABULARY: media message, product, separate elements, camera shot, movie, newspaper section.
  • McREL Writing Standards
    Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process. Level 2 (Grade 3-5)
    BENCHMARK: 1. Prewriting: Uses a variety of prewriting strategies (i.e., makes outlines, uses published pieces as writing models, constructs critical standards, brainstorms, builds background knowledge). 2. Drafting and Revising: Uses a variety of strategies to draft and revise written work.


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