Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 7

"Stray Cows and an Animal Menagerie" - Newspaper Ads of 1846


Students will compare and contrast newspaper advertisements of 1846 with advertisements and amusements of today.



  1. What were the advertisements in the newspapers of 1846? How are they similar or different than ads today?
  2. What type of amusements did the people of 1846 enjoy? Do we have similar amusements today?


exhibition, pavilion, tenants, menagerie, prodigious, subscriber, liberally, ferocious, cunning


  1. Bring in several newspapers to highlight advertisements, or assign students to bring in one or two interesting ads from the paper. Read through a few interesting ads and discuss the purpose of advertisements, what types of products or events are advertised, what information is included in an ad, how the ad is designed, etc.
  2. For younger grades it would be best to reproduce the ad on a transparency and discuss the ad in class beginning with the picture. What do you think this ad is advertising? Read through the ad and identify times, place and cost. Then have the students begin a list of the animals that will be shown. How are they described? Do we have anything like this in Cleveland today? (Cleveland Zoo) Let students then share their personal experiences with visits to the zoo. What do they see there? Who do they go there with? What is their favorite part or animal? Then have students create their own advertisement of the Cleveland Zoo. Be certain they include information on location, cost, and special sites. Their ads can then be displayed around the room or in the halls. This would be an excellent activity prior to a field trip to the zoo.
  3. For older grades, this can be used as a group activity. Divide students into groups. Each group will research the ad for information requested on Handout #3. Groups will report back their findings to the class, sharing and discussing the information they discovered. Each group will then be required to create an advertisement for a family entertainment activity today, using similar advertising techniques found in the ad from 1846. (This also makes an excellent English lesson when you ask students to identify all the adjectives used in the advertisement.)
  4. Briefly discuss personal ads, particularly ads for items or pets that have been lost. Distribute copies of Handout #3 - Stray Cows. Review the ads and discuss why people in 1846 would put such an ad in the paper? Why would a cow be so important? They have offered a reward for $2 - would that interest people today? What information is included in this ad? Compare these ads with an ad you might find in the paper today for a lost pet. Ask students to create their own ad for a lost pet. Be certain it is creative and descriptive!

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