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Believe it or Not?
Source: Council for Economic Education (EconEdLink) | Type: Lesson

Advertisements can tell consumers about prices and other information that may help them in the decisions they make about what to buy. But students also should know that ads are slanted by sellers to show a product in the best light. This lesson reveals to students how advertisers use words and images to make goods and services look their best. To protect consumers and make sure that competition among sellers is fair in the marketplace, the federal government requires that factual claims in ads be backed up with proof. Still, it is usually okay for sellers to talk only about the positives and ignore the negatives of what they are selling. Another common trick is to use exaggerated claims called “puffery.” It is up to the consumers to separate factual claims from opinions and exaggerations. This lesson challenges students to create a set of tips that could help consumers to make this distinction. Being able to tell the difference between factual claims and puffery or opinions can help consumers to make smart choices and avoid market disappointments.




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Fun and Interesting Lesson    May 9, 2010
By: McQuinn, A
Believe It or Not? - This lesson was fun and interesting to teach. However, it was necessary to have computers available for each student. The lesson had great links to quizzes and information on the Internet, which worked best if students had their own computers.

The students found the activities to be entertaining because of the interactive websites and quizzes on clothing, food and toys listed in the lesson. The concept of how companies prepared their products for advertising were eye opening, and the students were amazed by the means in which items were prepared. Students enjoyed finding out new information and were amused by the sites. The facts and quizzes on each of the sites kept the interest of all the students in my class.

Activity 1: Fact or Opinion? – This activity was wonderful because of the statements used and the ten question online quiz. The results of the quiz could easily be used to check for understanding of fact and opinion.

Activity 2: Packages are Advertising, Too! – This activity allowed the students to complete questions online about what the advertisements were really advertising. After each question is answered, an explanation was given to the students about each of the ads.

The Assessment Activity and Extension Activity were very easy for the students to complete. The students loved learning about how tricks are used to advertise food.

I highly recommend this lesson for students and teachers. It was well written and engaged the learners throughout all of the activities.


Review from November 19, 2007
By: Michelle Kemper
We are reviewing this lesson in a group as part of a college class, as we are studying to become teachers. We felt this lesson was an excellent way to get attention for the topic. We especially liked the websites, but we felt that it could be included on how exactly the teacher is expecting to use these websites - as groups? As a class? Individually? To expand this to outside of the classroom, you could have students bring some advertisements. This requires that they are being mindful of what you have taught them and will hopefully incorporate this into their everyday lives. Overall, however, a great lesson. We felt that this will be a relevant topic for years to come and hope the website stays current.

Review from April 19, 2008
By: Janet H.
I liked this lesson a lot and I am sure my 6th grade students will like the PBS interactive sights. They need to be able to recognize fallacies. Also, this meets a PASS objective for my state. Thanks!

Review from August 27, 2009
By: Des
A great way to use the website would be if you had a smartboard and to look at it as a class.

Review from August 28, 2009
By: Corby A
I really like this lesson because I believe that it will help my 3rd grade students become more discerning consumers. I use print ads to teach inferencing skills, so this lesson will go along with it beautifully. I also like the links.

Review from February 3, 2010
By: Chris
A boring subject but the materials here make it so interesting!

Review from July 14, 2010
By: Marla B.
Another great approach to teaching advertising. I would suggest some ice cream taste testing and comparing brands and maybe even some blindfolds. Food motivates!

Review from August 7, 2011
By: Debbie A.
I am using this lesson in my Consumer Economics class; I think it is great. It has wonderful resources. I have used the PBS site before and my students really enjoy it. Advertising is a very important concept that students need to understand, especially the fact that some advertising is not true.