Parking Lot Field Trip: Car Logos!

 In Diana Maliszewski, Elementary, Lessons and Ideas, Secondary

This excursion doesn’t take any permission forms or money to run. It’s a field trip to your school’s parking lot! This lesson can be led early in the school year, and can be modified for any age from kindergarten to junior or intermediate grades. A more succinct version of this lesson plan can be found here, free to download: Car Logo Lesson

For a more “narrative feel” (complete with photos), then continue to read here.

We begin with a conceptual review. What is media? The definition we use with my classes include the following elements:

  • made by people
  • made for people
  • can be seen / heard / felt / worn / experienced
  • message

The following question is meant to awaken their existing knowledge on the topic: How can you tell who had produced a particular media text? With some guidance, students will make connections to books (because on a simple level, the name of the author and illustrator appear on the cover, and the publisher’s mark is also visible). Have a couple of other objects available for students to use to point out the mark of the creator. (Depending on your school, this could be different things depending on their experiences – toys, shirts, etc.)

If the word does not arise during the discussion, introduce the term logo. Dictionary.Com says that a logo is

a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc.

Grab some sort of recording device – for our lesson, we used chalkboards and chalk, but you can use cameras, paper and pencil or other tools – and take a safe stroll through your school’s parking lot and examine the logos of the cars that park there. Draw the shapes. Count the number of times a logo appears on different cars. Notice where logos appear (right at the driver’s sight line). Consider any trends or themes (including the shapes – ellipses are very popular because they convey messages related to sophistication and speed). Research the economic links (how much does an average car of that make / model sell for regularly). Think about the common colours.

Links to the key concepts of media literacy include the commercial implications, the ideological / value messages, the social / political implications and the unique aesthetic form.

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