Keep Calm and ?

Possible Classroom Concepts: Self Evaluation


History (WW II, Propoganda Posters)

Possible Art Concepts: History Of Graphic Art (Posters)

Art Medium (Posters), Art Careers (Graphic Art)

So, the end of the first marking period is near (unless you teach in one of those states like Tennessee that start school in the middle of summer). Report cards will soon be coming out. I remember, when my children attended school, occasionally, along with their report cards came a self evaluation writing assignment. Included within this reflection piece were a few sentences about what my child did well and then a sentence about what she might do in the next marking period to improve. I’ve been thinking. As an extension of this writing assignment, why not create study improvement posters for your classroom or the halls of your school.

A great motivation might be to look at governmental propaganda posters. “What??????”, you’re wondering. Just hear me out. It can’t hurt to punch up a simple lesson with a little culture, in the way of WW II and poster history.


Have you seen this poster and the many parodies of it just about everywhere you look? It’s a new phenomenon, right? No, this poster is one of a set of three designed and produced by the British government to boost people’s moral at the beginning of the World War II. The first two posters were used. This one was saved in case of a real disaster that never came. So, it was never released. Many posters in the run were destroyed after the war. Some survived. Fifty years after the end of the war a copy of this poster was found in a box of old books by the owners of Barter Books in the town of Alnwick. They framed said poster and placed it over their cash register. The poster attracted so much attention, that the owners began reproducing and selling copies of all three posters. Read more about this poster’s history and see a video here:

America also produced propaganda posters during the world wars. Let’s look at two of the most famous. The Uncle Sam poster reproduced below was created during WW I and then this same Uncle Sam image was also used in WW II.


Read more about this poster and it’s artist here:

Another popular American poster is reproduced below:


Read more about this WW II poster and a video of the time here:

So, here’s my thinking. Review the poster making suggestions here:

 Look at the three posters. Ask your students what details make these good posters.

 Ask students if they’ve seen any of these posters or ones similar to these posters before. Explain that the similar posters are actually called parodies. Below find some parodies of these and other posters. Choose a few to include in a slide show on your smart board.

Afterwards, brainstorm with your students ways they can incorporate their improvement messages into a parody of one of these posters. I thought of three. For the KEEP CALM poster, switch out the crown for your schools mascot, write KEEP CALM AND….. , the student then adds their message below that. For the two American posters, students create self portraits in the poses of Uncle Sam or Rosie the Riveter and add their own messages.

More in depth information for middle or high school students can be found here:

with interactive activities here:

Do you have any poster ideas? How would you teach this lesson? I would love to hear. Simply tap the title of this post and scroll down to the bottom. There you will find a comment box.


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