The Berlin Wall

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Many students may have heard about the Berlin Wall, but likely do not understand its history and relationship to World War II and later, its connection to the Cold War.  The lesson introduces the students to the history of the wall, from its construction, its use, and to its fall.  There are additional videos and other resources available for teachers to use in the classroom.  The lesson may be used with lessons related to Germany, the Cold War or World War II.

The Berlin Wall Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about the The Berlin Wall
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 5-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Description

The lesson introduces students to the Berlin Wall. Students may have heard of this piece of history, but are unaware of how it relates to Germany, World War II and the Cold War. The lesson opens with an explanation of why the wall was built, and how it became a symbol for the division of Europe. A few people who were killed attempting to cross the wall are listed. Finally, President Reagan’s famous speech and the end of the Berlin Wall are discussed. The lesson can be used in conjunction with other lessons related to the Cold War.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Ask: What do you think it would be like if you were living in a walled city, and could not visit anyone or travel outside the city?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students if they could name times in history, or currently, when people could not leave the places they live.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students if they have ever heard of the Berlin Wall.  Allow for further responses and discussion.  Introduce The Berlin Wall.
  4. Distribute The Berlin Wall content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing, but asking students to reflect on the question.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students, when ready, distribute scratch/construction paper.  Teacher may discuss the questions for reflection prior to the drawing of the wall-section.  Encourage students to include signage encouraging peace, prosperity, etc.
  6. Once completed, discuss the reflection questions, allowing each pair of students to respond. The wall-section are then displayed and discussed by each pair of students.  Hold a thorough discussion about walls between countries, why they may or may not be useful, controversy surrounding them, etc.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: Imagine you are an East German child, but your grandparents live in West Germany. You cannot ever see them in person, and phone calls are rare.  What are some things you can do to keep their memory alive in you?  What would be the most difficult thing about not seeing them?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion. The questions/responses are helpful to encourage empathy in students, and an awareness that even today, there are people throughout the world who do not see close members of their family or friends, due to unfair restrictions, wars, poverty, etc.

Common Core State Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

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Want more social studies resources? Check out our other Social Studies Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade

Subject

Social Studies