Megan Nieman is a high school teacher in McPherson, Kansas and a member of the Kansas Council for the Social Studies executive board.
I realize that we are several months past the 2016 election but the great thing about teaching social studies is there are an abundance of political elections that we can discuss throughout the year! I learned about the Museum of Moving Image site, Living Room Candidate, about seven years ago. I’ve used it here and there when talking about presidential elections and campaigns but as I recently began teaching a modern American History course, the site has become an excellent supplement to my curriculum.
It has every presidential campaign advertisement starting from 1952 to present. It is interesting for kids to compare ads from the 1950s and 1960s with ads from the 2016 election. Living Room Candidate also provides lesson plans on the power and effect of advertising.
Recently, I used Living Room Candidate to have my 11th graders analyze the elections of the 1950s. It was also a quick and easy way to cover those elections without taking an extra day to do so. They watched ads from the 1952, 1956, and 1960 campaigns and discussed which ads they felt were effective or not based on the context of what was going on during that time. You can access the sheet that I had them fill out here.
Another great thing about this site is it works on student Chromebooks and isn’t blocked if YouTube is firewalled at your school!