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30-60 minutes
  • Current Events
  • Journalism
  • 6-12

  1. In advance, review the gallery of historical sources below and prepare access to/copies of example(s) of contemporary fake news.
  2. Ask students if they’ve heard discussions about fake news and define this term as a class. Be sure to define it clearly as false/invented/made-up news – NOT simply news that contains a mistake, news that is biased or news that someone doesn’t like. Explain that fake news is getting a lot of attention now, but it is not new.
  3. Hand out the Fake News Through History worksheets and assign students one of the historical sources in the gallery on this page to analyze. They may work in teams, pairs or individually. You may choose to go over the E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News poster to prepare students to employ its six ways to analyze an artifact: evidence, source, context, audience, purpose and execution.
  4. When students have completed the worksheet, look at the historical sources in the gallery and the contemporary examples as a class and briefly explain each. Then, discuss the questions below.

  • Fake News Through History worksheet (download), one per student
  • Access to the gallery of historical sources below (either printed copies or via devices) 
  • Contemporary examples of fake news from the Examples for Evaluating Online News - Teacher Resource (download) 
  • E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News poster (optional, download)


  1. How is each of these historical examples related to the issue of fake news?
  2. Did any of the fake news stories you reviewed cause real problems? Explain. Which problems do you think were the most serious?
  3. Compare and contrast the purpose behind each of these fake news stories. Why were they created?
  4. Why do you think people believed these fake news stories?
  5. How are these fake news stories the same as/different from today’s fake news?


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