Don t Buy It. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 13

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1 Don t Buy It challenges kids to think critically about media and advertising. Show kids how to get to Don t Buy It from the Web site of your local PBS station. If the site is not linked to your local station s Web site, have children go to pbskids.org. On the pull-down menu for Choose a PBS Kids site, click on Don t Buy It. Then click go. Or simply type pbskids.org/dontbuyit in the browser s address window. Preview the homepage of Don t Buy It with the kids, noting the different sections. Encourage children to click on the parody banner ads in the upper right corner. These simulate the banner ads on commercial Web sites. However, when a child clicks on the Don t Buy It parody banner ad, they receive a quick Get Media Smart tip. During your own exploration of the Don t Buy It Web site, be sure to browse through the activity ideas and resources provided on the Teacher s Guide. Circulate as children explore Don t Buy It. Express interest in their discoveries and offer help as needed. For additional activity ideas go to: technoteacher.com/food%20and%20the%20media.htm Projects The project ideas below give children the opportunity to extend and personalize the ideas and information presented on Don t Buy It. Encourage kids to think up and pursue their own projects as well. Students can contribute to the content of the site by visiting the Feedback area. Encourage students to use the Feedback area to send suggestions to Don t Buy It, especially ideas for future parody banner ads (or actual banner ads they ve created) and suggestions for future Making Music columns. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 13

2 Create a Cereal Box for Tweens In this project, children apply and extend what they learned in the online activity Design a Cereal Box. To introduce the project, go to the Don t Buy It Web site and design several online cereal boxes together. Follow the pathway below. Design a Cereal Box for Tweens From the Don t Buy It homepage, click on Advertising Tricks. Choose Design a Cereal Box. Bring in a collection of cereal boxes. Compare and discuss the boxes: the look of the cereal, the color and design of the box, the name, and other things designed to grab a buyer s attention. Help children make connections to information provided in the Design a Cereal Box online activity. Ask: What group of people is this cereal box trying to attract? Little kids? Adults? Boys? Girls? Why do you think that? Are any of these cereals boxes designed to appeal especially to tweens or teens? Explain your answer. What images, words, or special offers would tempt you to buy a brand of cereal? Have students cover empty cereal boxes with paper, then create their own design, using markers, pictures cut from magazine, etc. Challenge kids to design a cereal that will especially appeal to teens. Encourage them to include nutritional information as well as marketing elements on their box. For additional ideas, refer to Design Your Own Cereal Box and Part of This Complete Breakfast activities in the Don t Buy It Teacher s Guide found on the Web site: pbskids.org/dontbuyit/teachersguide.html Savvy Viewers: Propaganda Techniques Have children explore the online activities, What s in an Ad? and Create Your Own Commercial. (See the pathway below.) Gather and prepare materials. If possible, record several TV commercials on videotape and several radio commercials on audiotape. Make copies of the handout, Propaganda Techniques (page 17). Have magazines available, so kids can look for product ads. What s in an Ad? From the Don t Buy It homepage, click on Advertising Tricks. Choose What s in an Ad? Create Your Own Commercial From the Don t Buy It homepage, click on Advertising Tricks. Choose Create Your Own Commercial. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 14

3 Discuss the Propaganda Techniques handout with kids. Ask them to provide you with examples from commercials that they have seen or heard that use each of these techniques. View and listen to the recordings of TV and radio commercials and discuss which propaganda techniques are used. How do TV commercials differ from radio ads? What propaganda techniques work best with each? Have children examine magazine ads and identify the ad techniques used in those. Which ads and commercials do kids find personally most persuasive? Help them analyze what makes them so effective. Create a TV Commercial Creating a commercial will take several days. It takes time to think of an idea, write a storyboard, gather props and costumes, rehearse and shoot. Distribute the handout, Create a TV Commercial (page 18). What product would children like to advertise in their commercial? What propaganda technique(s) could they use? What sound effects or music could they include? Review the strategies outlined on the Propaganda Techniques handout and brainstorm ideas as a whole group before having children start working on this project in small teams. For more tips and behind the scenes information, children may want to check out the feature Make a Short on the PBS Kids Web site. Go to pbskids.org/bts/makeashort and click on Studio Tour. When the commercials are finished, invite other clubs or groups to a screening. Product Testing Have children explore the Buying Smart area of the Don t Buy It Web site. Then introduce them to Zillions: Consumer Reports Online for Kids at zillions.org. Together, check out the features in which kids test and compare a category of products. (Follow the pathway below.) Discuss the Ratings Charts created to record the results of their tests. What information did kids record in each section of the chart? Encourage children to devise their own product testing activity. The Product Testing handout (page 19) will help guide them through the steps. Zillions Rating Charts From the Zillions homepage (zillions.org) click on the final Toy Tests choice, Brain Games. Click on Ratings Chart. For more product tests and rating charts, go to the pull-down menu under More Features. Media Literacy Spots Kids enjoy being truth-in-advertisement detectives and critiquing media messages. Let them apply and teach others the skills they have learned on the Don t Buy This Web site by creating media literacy video spots with tips about how to avoid being duped by advertising. Check with your local PBS station (education or outreach department) to see if it might consider airing spots created by kids about media literacy. These spots could also be video streamed on the PBS station s Web site. In some cases, a station might be willing to share a videographer or editor to help create the spots. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 15

4 To prepare for this project, print out and discuss the Question the Commercial suggestions from the Web site (see pathway below) and review the techniques on the Propaganda Techniques handout. The Create a TV Commercial handout (page 18) can be adapted to help kids create video spots with tips about how to avoid being duped by advertising. Most on-air spots are 30 seconds long. Children must plan carefully as they decide what to include in the allotted time. After kids have created their spots, you might: have a gathering with parents or other groups to show kids spots to an audience. ask the kids to talk about their messages and why they think it s important to be aware of advertising techniques. check to see if your local PBS or community access cable station might be interested in airing the spots. Question the Commercial From the Don t Buy It homepage click on Buying Smart. Click on Question the Commercial. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 16

5 Propaganda Techniques Propaganda Techniques are methods used to persuade people to do something, buy something, or believe something. Propaganda techniques can be used by advertisers, political groups, or anyone else who wants to persuade others to do or believe something. Here are some of the most frequently used techniques. 1. Transfer or Association is a technique that tries to associate a product, idea, or cause with fame, popularity, or fun. Example: Britney Spears is shown wearing Calvin Klein jeans. The advertiser hopes you ll think this: Britney Spears is cool and successful and these are the jeans she wears. If I wear these jeans, maybe I ll be as cool and successful as Britney. 2. Testimonial is when someone in an ad tells a personal story about how he or she uses and likes a certain program or product. Example: A woman talks about how she has finally found a medicine that cures her headaches and lets her enjoy life again. Testimonials are one of the most convincing advertising techniques. They make viewers feel like they are listening to a personal conversation, instead of an advertisement. 3. Plain Folks is a technique that implies that an idea or product is honest and good because it comes from or is used by everyday, common people. Example: An All American Insurance ad shows average Americans doing everyday things, like opening mailboxes, riding bikes, and waving to each other. The advertiser is trying to send the message that plain folks all over the country are buying All American Insurance, proof that this is a product you can trust. 4. The Bandwagon is a technique that claims everybody is doing it. If all teenagers are wearing hip-huggers and belly rings, then you should hop on the bandwagon and follow the crowd. Example: Four out of five people use Sparkle toothpaste. (Everybody s buying Sparkle, so you should, too.) 5. Glittering Generalities is a technique in which a product is identified with buzz words such as American, patriotic, honest, true, or best. Example: All Americans should drink coffee. It s the American way of life. (American way of life is a glittering generality. Is there one single American way of life?) Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 17

6 Create a TV Commercial In order to create your own commercial, you will need to think carefully about the message you want to convey. You will also need to think about how much time it takes to share your message. Most commercials are 30 or 60 seconds long. 1. Decide on a product. You need to figure out what it is you would like to sell, a product or a service. This could be something creative or funny, like edible napkins or a daycare center for dogs. 2. Create your message. How will you convince your audience to buy what you are selling? Review the Propaganda Techniques handout. Decide which of the techniques you would like to use. Try to narrow your message down to one sentence or even just a phrase. 3. Think about action, characters, sound effects and music. How will you get this message across? Who will do the talking? Or, will you show the message in some action between kids (or kids and adults)? What do you want them to do? 4. Plan your commercial by making a storyboard. A storyboard is like a cartoon strip. It is a series of pictures showing what will happen in the commercial step by step. It s like a script only in pictures. 5. Write the script. Write words to go along with each frame of the storyboard. What does each character say? Since you only have 30 seconds, every word counts. Be sure to choose your words carefully. 6. Gather props, costumes, and music and rehearse! Rehearse your commercial many times. Be sure to time yourself so that it doesn t run over the time you have allotted (30 or 60 seconds). If you are under, you ll need to add more lines and action to complete the spot. 7. Film your commercial. Maybe you can borrow a videocamera from a local school or community group. 8. Share your work. Watch your commercial with your group or club. Invite parents if you wish. Then, see if you can find a place to air or share your commercial: Your local PBS station s Web site or community cable station might be a good start. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 18

7 Product Testing 1. What type of product will you test and compare? Choose a category, for example: toys, breakfast cereals, soft drinks, or paper towels. 2. Bring in three to four examples of that type of product. Talk about the product promises made by the ads or packaging. What do the ads or the packaging say this product will do? 3. Make a chart showing the things you want to compare to determine which product is the best in its category. For example, you might judge each breakfast cereal for some of the following things: price, taste, how quickly it becomes soggy, nutritional content, calories, overall rating. 4. Make a chart for your testers to fill out as they try out the products. Your chart for rating breakfast cereals might look like this. (A chart for rating board games would have different categories.) *1=excellent, 2=good, 3=not so good, 4=awful Name of cereal Price Taste* Texture* (after one minute) Nutritional value* Overall rating* Comments 5. Talk about how to make your testing situation as fair as possible. For example, if your testers are judging food or paper towels, be sure they don t know the name of the brand they are trying. Switch the order of the products so that different testers try different products first. You may want to have testers try out the products separately, so that people don t have their opinions swayed by what the others say. 6. Hold your product testing session! 7. Make a graph or chart ranking which product your testers liked best. 8. Share your results with other groups or clubs and with your families. Five Sites for Kids: Where Fun and Learning Click! 19

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