The Cold War


The lesson introduces students to the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1990.  The information includes some of the events leading up to the Cold War, events during the era, and the end to the Cold War.  Students may have heard the term Cold War, and may understand it was something between Russia and the U.S. in the past, but most need clarification on the concept of this cold war between two superpowers.

The Cold War Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about the The Cold War
  • 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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The lesson introduces students to the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1990. At the start of the lesson, various types of war are described so students understand what exactly a Cold War entails. Then the lesson describes how the Cold War began at the end of WWII. Some of the major people and events of the Cold War are described, including Stalin, President Truman, the Red Army, and the Warsaw Pact. A timeline of major events is included as well.

Classroom Procedure:

  1. Ask the students: What kind of war includes no fighting, no guns, no deaths or injuries, and no battles, but may affect the lives of millions of people?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. A variety of responses may be given, and as students respond, guide them to relations between two people, when someone is mad at another person and they treat each other coldly.
  3. Allow for additional responses and discussion. Introduce The Cold War.
  4. Distribute The Cold War content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity pages. Read and review the instructions.  Group students in 3s or 4s to discuss and respond to each of the questions.  Remind students to respect each other’s opinions, and though persuading one to change his/her opinion is acceptable, it must be done with respect and supported with facts.
  6. Once the students have had sufficient time to discuss and respond to all questions, conduct a whole-class discussion with each group sharing responses. Debate may be permitted.
  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: If you were one of the Presidents during the Cold War era, what ideas would you have used to end the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion.

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

Additional Resources:

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

Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

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