Thursday, October 13, 2011

SmallWorld's WordSmithery Lesson 11: Advertising

The WordSmithery is back! Yes, I know it's been a year since my last lesson, and I apologize to those of you who have been waiting patiently. But let's get started!

If you are brand new here, I recommend that you go back and start at the beginning. My goal with the WordSmithery is to make creative writing exciting for writers of all ages. Here's what we've covered so far:
As always, this lesson is loosely scripted. You might eliminate some things or add others as you go. I try to put the "speaking" parts in regular type and the answers in italics. And remember: parents/teacher: you should be doing the assignments, too! Go back and read the first couple of lessons to find out why. Here we go! (This lesson is rather long. I'd recommend doing it in a couple of days rather than all at once.) I think you can download and print the whole WordSmithery Lesson 11 here on googledocs. If that doesn't work for you, you can copy and paste the lesson below into a Word doc for ease in teaching.

Before you begin this lesson, you will need to find examples of advertising in magazines, coupon flyers, etc. You can do a google image search for "magazine advertisements" and find all kinds of examples if you don't have any magazines at home.

You might also wish to preview TV ads on youtube and pick out a few appropriate ones for your kids to watch. This page lists the most popular TV commercials, but please preview before you show your kids!

Lesson 11: Advertising

Up to this point we have been concentrating on various tools that writers: metaphor, simile, strong verbs, exciting adjectives. Language and words are the building blocks for all writing. Any good writer of fiction or nonfiction knows how to use words—to make words do the work for them.

We are going to move now into writing nonfiction. We talked in the last lesson about different types of nonfiction like biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, newspaper articles, etc. Today we are going to talk about a special kind of creative writing that should be nonfiction but often borders on fiction!

Where can advertising can be found? (Allow for discussion: TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, internet, etc.) What about more subtle forms of advertising? (discuss things like t-shirts, backpacks, shopping bags, buses, cars, billboards)

• Do you enjoy TV commercials? What are you favorite TV commercials? Why? (allow for discussion) What about your least favorite TV commercial? Why? (allow for discussion)

• Do you like reading ads in magazines and newspapers? (discuss)

What about the ads that pop up on the computer when you are playing games (or Facebook for older students)? Are you ever tempted to click on them?

What is the purpose of advertising? (to sell something). Is everyone going to be attracted to the same kind of ad? (No. Briefly discuss how ads are targeted differently according to age groups, gender, etc.)

• What does poetry—words— have to do with advertising? (You have to get people to FEEL in order to want to buy.)

Advertisements that trigger an emotional response can grab an audience by the heart, hold their attention, and leave them with a warm and cozy feeling about the company, product or service. Warm feelings can translate into money.

This handout describes the different kinds of techniques used in the advertising world. (The link should take you to the handout in google docs. But here is another hand-out in case that one doesn't work for you.) Let’s go over these and see if you can find examples or think of examples. (Provide copies of magazine, newspaper, etc ads. Talk about what you see in them and how the techniques are used in them.) • Look particularly for words that might trigger an emotional response in the reader. (Together, make a list of those words in a journal or on your white board.)

The next lesson will include more about advertising. Until then, encourage your students to pay attention to the persuasive words and techniques used in advertising, especially to print ads.

Journal Writing

Day 1: Describe a food that you had today as if you were advertising it in a magazine geared toward parents.

(Example: Cheerios. What parent doesn’t want simply the best? )

Day 2: Describe the same food in Day 1 or choose a different one and describe it as if you were advertising it in a magazine geared toward kids.

(Example: Cheerios. Eat a bowl for breakfast and your mom will let you eat a treat later! And they taste great, too!)

Day 3: Describe a current TV or radio commercial that you really like or dislike. Be specific!

Day 4: Describe your dream vacation in a few short sentences.

(Example: My dream vacation would be a summertime tour through the UK and Germany. I’d like to visit castles, cathedrals, and every famous building. I would want a lot of money and my whole family with me.)


I'd love to see what you're writing! Leave us a sample in the comments, or share your writing here. (Be sure to include which lesson you are sharing!)

Hope you enjoyed this week's WordSmithery! One more thing: if you are enjoying SmallWorld's WordSmithery, help me spread the word by copying the button below and putting it on your own blog post or your sidebar, and/or pin me on Pinterest! Thanks!

SmallWorld's WordSmithery


  1. that is a great post! thansk alot for sharing with us! appreciate it!

  2. Interesting! information! thanks a for sharing!

  3. So glad your back.I'm doing the whole Word Smithery course with my 2 HE kids and we are really loving it, we are on Assignment 4 at the moment - it's they first time we've all got so excited about writing, I can't thank you enough!

  4. I'm obviously stumbling on this much later than when you posted, but better late than never. I have a 3d and 6 th grader and am going to use these writing tools for something fun this coming school year. Hank you for your direction and also home schooling your kiddos. It's tons of work but sonrewarding

  5. Thank you so much for this easy to follow, fun and structured program. So generous of you to share this - I, for one, am a very appreciative homeschooling mom!!

  6. Thank you! :) We are 4 lessons in, and I'm printing the other ones so I don't have to lug my gargantuan dying laptop to the table each time :) - It is fun that we can all do it together and sometimes I've let the lesson and fun go on for an hour! :)


  7. We are loving this, my reluctant writer is finally enjoying his writing assignments. Thank you so much. I'm just wondering if you are ever going to add more lessons or if this is the end and where do we go from here????? Thank you again, Paula

    1. I really, really do plan to add more lessons one of these days!

  8. thank you so much for sharing this! please keep the assignments coming!

  9. Yes, please continue to add - we are still here!


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