Do you cringe each time a commercial comes on the television and your children shout out, “I want that!” Advertising is designed to make everything look cool, fun, exciting, fulfilling, and a number of other enticing adjectives.
But the product itself is never as fun as the advertisement makes it out to be. How do you teach your children this concept and perhaps help them be more aware of the purpose behind those loud, colorful commercials?
I typically pull out and reuse this lesson yearly, either around Christmas time or before the Super Bowl when commercials are abundant. But it’s a great lesson to use any time you start hearing a lot of “I want that!” in your house. Plus, this lesson teaches compound words which is great for including the younger kids in the lesson.
An Advertising Lesson Starts with Compound Words
I took out a game called Soundtooning (by Purple Pebble Games) and just left it on the kitchen table about an hour before we began the lesson. My children, of course, found the game and immediately began playing it. Little did they know that they were learning. But you don’t need to have the game to begin this lesson.
Discuss how a compound word is two words that when added together make a brand new word. Give some examples, like baseball, lighthouse, raincoat, and so on. Have the kids come up with some of their own. Ask them what the two separate words are in each compound word.
On pieces of paper or cardstock, have the children write the compound words down, leaving space between the two words. After you’ve written as many as you can think of, take a pair of scissors and cut each word in half, dividing the two words. Place the cards in two paper bags–one for the first half of the compound words and the other for the second half. And now the silliness begins.
What’s in an Ad? Dissecting the Structure of an Advertisement
Advertising – whether it is a commercial, a newspaper flyer, web content, or a radio ad – is meant to coerce you to do something. Ask your kids which commercials they’ve seen lately where the product sounded awesome and made them really want it. Ask them what about the ad made them want the toy.
Then ask them if they have ever seen something advertised that looked really great, but when they got it, it wasn’t nearly as fun as they were led to believe. Ask them why and discuss the purpose of advertising.
Marketing and sales writing typically has four essential points: attention, interest, desire, and action.
- attention: Grab the attention of the readers with a stand-out headline.
- interest: Develop the readers’ interest by explaining the headline in a creative way.
- desire: Create an emotional response in the readers, making them feel that they want or need the product or service.
- action: Make a call to action that will cause the readers to visit the website, call the phone number, or perhaps yell out to all within hearing, “I want that!”
Make an Advertisement
Have your kids each randomly choose one card from each of the compound word bags. What did they get? Cow bean? Star chair? Cup cane? Jelly fly? Encourage your children to create a new product using their silly compound word and develop an ad for the product.
Remind them to think about the four elements of an advertisement and include those elements in their ad. We like to look through newspaper sales circulars for inspiration. Then we come up with a fake store name and turn all of our work into a fun and funny newspaper sales circular.
Through this advertising lesson, your children will learn to recognize what methods advertisers take to draw in consumers and make that toy seem extra fun. In the meantime, they get to practice their compound words.