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You Be the Judge!

Use reasoning to judge ads for good and bad sales.

Goal: To use reasoning to separate fact from persuasion so you can fairly judge an ad’s claims.

Time: about 1 hour

Space: Desk or table



Time: about 30 minutes, plus time to collect ads

  • Collect ads: Collect kid-friendly ads from newspaper circulars and magazines. Ads that use both fact and persuasion through words and pictures work best. You will need at least one for your child, and one for your opening discussion.
  • Optional:  Preview the episode or clip, and if using them with your child, cue up the videos via the links above.


  1. Start a discussion about ads—printed pictures and words that try to persuade you to buy a product. Invite your child to share examples of ads that tempted him to make a purchase. Ask: What was in the ad that made you want to buy the product? Ask: In what ways were the ad’s claims true? Not true?
  2. Share an ad with your child. Show how pictures and words are both used to make claims. Ask: What are some ways ads try to tempt you to buy? (Ads promote sales; show products in fantasy settings; use celebrities; make exaggerated statements about how if you buy, then good things will happen to you, etc.). Ask: What are some ways we might judge this ad to find out if this [name product] will truly meet our needs?
  3. Optional: Use the episode or segment to further explore this idea.
  4. Explain that ads often combine facts about a product with reasons for you to buy it. Facts are statements that can be tested to see if they are true. Reasons to buy are often not based on fact, and might be true sometimes, but not always.
  5. Tell your child that you’ve collected some ads and today you’re going to have some fun with them. Ads make you think everything is a good buy, but is that really so? Today you are going to use reasoning to find out.
  6. Give your child the handout and at least one ad to work with. Ask: Which parts of your ad try to tempt you to buy the product? Which parts give you factual information about it? Which might you want to test to see if the product truly does what the ad says?
  7. Once your child have has completed his handout, regroup to discuss.

Take It Further

Share this activity’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) connections and invite your child’s comments:

Scientists, mathematicians and engineers rely on both evidence and counter-evidence when considering theories or claims.

Talk About It

Ask: What did you learn today that you didn’t know before?  

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Produced by: Funding is provided by:
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Additional funding is provided by Lynne and Marc Benioff, the Tiger Baron Foundation, Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte and Ellen Marcus.
The JPB Foundation NSF Heising-Simons Foundation EY

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