Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Cuban Missile Crisis
Jeanie Jones
Geography of the Western Hemisphere, Government and Economics
Time Frame:
two 85 minute blocks
Cold War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Students will work in cooperative groups using primary sources (photographs, maps and documents) and brief biographies to understand how the U.S. and Cuban relations were changed by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Students will use classroom computers to access information from the handout:  Valuable URL’s Regarding Cuba, shared by Nancy McCoy, Director of Education, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.


The Cuban Missile Crisis is briefly discussed in class during a government unit and again in a unit on the West Indies.  After attending the conference it is evident that a more detailed lesson on this historical event would allow students a greater knowledge base to better understand the role Cuba plays in current events.

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

Show-Me Standards:

Knowledge Standards

In Social Studies, students in Missouri public schools will acquire a solid foundation which includes knowledge of

  1. the major elements of geographical study and analysis (such as location, place, movement, regions) and their relationships to changes in society and environment
  2. the use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

Performance Standards

Goal 1:2 conduct research to answer questions and evaluate information and ideas

Goal 3:2 develop and apply strategies based on ways others have prevented or solved problems

Goal 4: 1 explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions



Benchmark 1: Geographic Tools and Location: The student uses maps, graphic representations, tools, and technologies to locate, use, and present information about people, places, and environments.


Benchmark 4: The student engages in historical thinking skills

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


Scholastic website on Fidel Castro: 

Castro Resigns


Castro Resigns


YouTube video (used as a download on my desktop):

On the Brink of Destruction: The Cuban Missile Crisis-10:05 minutes


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2ZyeG4tdOQ&feature=relatedrecording, etc.)


Fidel Castro, a biography  Warrensburg Middle School Library


0-385-04076-8 (lib. bdg.)

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

Photographs and brief biographies of major players in the crisis, maps of Cuba in relation to the USA and in the world, a timeline, aerial maps of the launch sites, and letters from Fidel Castro, Krushchev and J.F. Kennedy.  Kennedy’s speech to the public is included in the YouTube video clip.

Full description of activity or assignment.


The class will share photographs and biographies of the three dominate players in the Cuban Missile Crisis (J.F. Kennedy, Castro and Kruschchev).  A world map showing each player and

his country will be shown. This background information will be presented using a Smart Board. Students will be divided into small groups. Students will be given packets containing materials that they will need to review.  Students will share important observations and knowledge gained from the primary documents, maps and photographs. Students will record important points discussed on a graphic organizer. Based on the information presented in class students will come to a conclusion of what really happened at the end of the thirteen day crisis. Students will share their decision with the class using supporting details.  The teacher will emphasis that’ the rest of the story’ will be shared on day two of this lesson. 


On day two of the lesson students will watch the YouTube video.  This video does not go into detail about the US agreement to take missiles out of Turkey but it does give enough information to ‘hook’ students who may want to learn more about this time in history. Students will use classroom computers to access the site from Scholastic News and relate how this historical event continues to influence the U.S.A. and Cuban relationship.  Throughout both days the teacher will join groups, ask questions, and facilitate.  Students will write a reflective paper on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the point of view of a sixth grader living in the United States during this time period.  

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

Formative assessments will be from teacher observation of student discussions in the groups, notes, groups sharing as a class, and from the reflective paper.