Propaganda in the Hunger Games

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Students will be able to analyze an author's words for propaganda and create original propaganda posters for The Hunger Games.

Big Idea

If you don't teach your students about propaganda devices, who will?

Learning about Propaganda through Reading and a Reference Sheet

20 minutes

In the past, I've either used excerpts from the Buckle Down book from Triumph Learning or commercials to teach propaganda.  This year I used the Buckle Down book.  It includes some of the common propaganda devices like bandwagon, peer pressure, loaded words, scare tactics, name calling, testimonial, and others. 

I gave students copies of the Propaganda Techniques Reference Sheet.  As we read through the descriptions of the terms and examples, I modeled underlining key words or writing notes about key things I wanted to remember and encouraged students to write down their own, personalized notes or questions. 

A number of thought-provoking questions arose.  Some of the questions that either I or the students posed (I've placed asterisks after questions from students) were

  • What's the difference between bandwagon and peer pressure?
  • What's the difference between loaded words and scare tactics?
  • What if the celebrity being used to endorse a product isn't really an expert?*
  • Don't politicians use a lot of these?*
  • Are stereotypes just negative?  Can there be a "positive" stereotype?
  • How does transfer work?  How can you take emotions from one thing and take them to another?*
  • Why does propaganda work so well?

Applying Knowledge of Propaganda

20 minutes

To show students' understanding of propaganda techniques, I asked them to create propaganda posters for The Hunger Games because really?  Propaganda and dystopian literature go together like a hot flame and a marshmallow. 

The premise of this assignment was that inspired by reaping day. Everyone is expected to attend the reaping unless they're on death's door. Students could either create a slogan encouraging citizens to attend the reaping or to boycott the reaping. 

They started off by brainstorming ideas using the reference sheet as a, well, reference.  I asked them to use a sheet of paper to write slogans and then identify which types of propaganda they used.  It quickly became apparent that it's very easy to use multiple types of propaganda and that some types work better for different angles.

Some of the ideas they came up with were

  •  If you don't attend the reaping, all of your family will be executed.
  • Stop the evil; skip the reaping.
  • Not on death's door? You are now.


 Here's a Google search for propaganda posters.


Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture is a propaganda poster from 1915.