Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Berlin Airlift
Nancy H. Muller
Course 8th Grade Social Studies
Time Frame:
One 90-minute session and homework assignment, 15-30 minutes of another class to answer questions about paper or discuss topics with class, 15 minutes of another class to return assignments and comment. I plan to give the assignment the same day of the
Berlin Airlift
Berlin Airlift
Berlin Airlift

Grade Levels:
6, 7, 8, 9

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This will be a cross curricular assignment.  Social Studies teacher will work with the students on the introduction of the activity.  Language Arts teacher will assist with short paper reflection assignment.  We will collaborate on the grading of the assignment.


The Berlin Airlift was a significant factor in the future of the Cold War.  This activity will be used in class as a bridge to the Cold War era, helping students to understand “East and West Berlin”.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Missouri Show-Me Standards:

  • Goal 1:  Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to gather, analyze & apply information and ideas.     Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability to: #5 comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works;  #7 evaluate the accuracy of information and the reliability of its sources.
  • Goal 4:  Students will acquire the knowledge & skills to make decisions and act as responsible members of society.  #3. . . analyze the duties & responsibilities of individuals in societies.

National Council for the Social Studies Thematic Strands:

  • VII  Production, distribution, and consumption
  • IX Global Connections

US National Geography Standards:

   #1How to use maps & other geographic representations, tools, and Technologies to acquire, process and report information from a spatial perspective.

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 4: The student engages in historical thinking skills

1. (A) examines a topic in United States history to analyze changes over time and makes logical inferences concerning cause and effect.

2. (A) examines a variety of different types of primary sources in United States history and analyzes them in terms of credibility, purpose, and point of view (e.g., census records, diaries, photographs, letters, government documents).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Books:  Mercedes & the Chocolate Pilot  by Margot Theis Raven
  • Time for Kids Reader The Berlin Airlift by Heather Miller
  •  The Berlin Candy Bomber by Gail Halversen
  • To Save A City by Dr. Roger Miller
  • You Tube  3-minute recording “Berlin Airlift Promotion” (video & patriotic music in background)
    YouTube - Berlin Airlift Promotion.htm

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Photograph of C-54     

Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation_files\c54.htm 

American Experience  The Berlin Airlift  Berlin Airlift Map  PBS_files

maps files

Technology Required:

Computer with display screen or SmartBoard

Full description of activity or assignment.

      Lesson begins by teacher reading Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.

       Following the reading, break students into small groups ( 4-5 students) and give out the following small group discussion sheet.  Give out one sheet per group.  Students should have about 10 minutes for discussion, then return to large group to collect the thoughts of each group as to the validity of the story. small group discussions--

 Questions (Word)

      Following small group discussion, teacher will read (or get copies for the students) of the Time for Kids Reader The Berlin Airlift (21 pages).

      Use “maps files” + “The PBS files” (listed above) to reinforce map images and talk about placement of the city of Berlin within Germany.

      Show 3-minute UTube video in order to reinforce visual images from the books.  

      Teacher will ask the following questions: 

      *Where is Berlin?  (Refer to map links American Experience  The Berlin Airlift  Berlin Airlift Map  PBS_files and maps files.)    *What was the purpose of the Berlin airlift?  *Why did this task at first seem insurmountable?  *Why was it deemed important to accomplish this mission?  *What were some of the most important items shipped to the people of Berlin?  *What would you consider the most important items to receive, if you were a 14-year-old living in Berlin at that time?  *What were some of the problems faced by the pilots and ground people during the Airlift?  *How did the people of Berlin assist?  *Who was the “candy bomber” and why was his contribution important? *Overall, how did the Airlift shape the future of Berlin?

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

_______________________________________________________________________________*Students will be given participatory grades for their participation in the small group activity, as well as oral questions asked by teacher following the reading of the books and the short video. 


*Students will be asked to write a reflection paper.  Assignment below. 

Berlin part two