Why did the United States get involved in the Vietnam War lesson plan

Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War? lesson plan

The Vietnam War is a hard one to teach kids about, especially if you want to present an unbiased viewpoint.  I searched long and hard to find out “why did the United States enter the Vietnam War?” but wasn’t finding a good lesson on that.


Especially because I wanted to find lessons that let the kids draw their own conclusions, should we have entered the war.  There’s nothing, less than nothing.


So, I adapted some lesson plans to create this lesson.

Why did the United States get involved in the Vietnam War lesson plan

Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War lesson plan

Materials required: posterboard, handout, markers

Time required: about an hour

Age range: we did this with elementary to high school age (I wouldn’t do it with just young elementary)


Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War procedures

why did United States get involved in the Vietnam War

First they were split into two groups, just like in our Korean War lesson, a pro-war group, and an anti-war group.


Vietnam war lesson

Then each group had 30 minutes to go through the information, figure out each person’s part, and prepare their information.


This time I cautioned them about using real names, so I could show the videos of each presentation on my blog, want to protect their privacy and names after all.

anti-Vietnam War group part 1


anti-Vietnam War group part 2

This group did pretty well over all, but you can see they had a few problems with focus.  It was a vast improvement over their first presentation.  For some reason Superman interpreted be passionate as talk in a strange falsetto voice.


pro-Vietnam War group

This group did much better despite having the younger kids over-all.  I think in some ways this is due to the personality of the team members, their leader is much more organizationally inclined.  They felt more practiced, and they brought up things President Kennedy himself had promised when he was elected.


I could see real growth in the kids from the two different attempts at convincing us.  In this instance I think the pro-war group did a much better job in their presentation of material and in their arguments.  I personally still haven’t figured out how I feel about the Vietnam War, on the one hand why are we in a war in Asia, but on the other hand if we want to support democracies in the world, we need to stand behind our words.  There was a slaughter when we finally did withdraw, so I don’t know what is the right decision.


And that would be why we don’t tend to teach on recent history because it’s still so tinged with current events.


Vietnam War lessons I found:

Using primary sources Vietnam War lesson

Vietnam War lesson using maps


For more US history lessons:

American History lessons by Adventures in Mommydom

US history pinterest board


For most history and geography ideas check out these great blogs:


11 responses to “Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War? lesson plan”

  1. maryanne @ mama smiles Avatar
    maryanne @ mama smiles

    This is a tough, tough lesson to teach. Not sure how I would tackle it…

    1. I really struggled to find anything because so much of what is taught focuses on the protests, and I wanted to make sure they understood the thinking behind the war before ever really getting into the protests.

  2. You are right about teaching modern history is so hard because we are still living it.

    1. I actually ended up not finishing our history book for the year (big surprise there) because it became too hard to teach it for the kids. There’s just some things I’m not quite ready to discuss with them, the drug abuse of the 60s and 70s, AIDS, 9-11.
      I’m pretty open about talking about many things and hard things, but those are things I couldn’t think how to frame in a way that will make sense for their lives.

  3. Fascinating approach. I would definitely want to be on an anti-war team, because I don’t believe in bringing democracy by force.

  4. I love how you tried to present both sides fairly! I am pinning this to my unschooling history board!

  5. REALLY love the way you try to present both sides…as a history nerd, one thing I can’t stand is biased history.

    PS Your children are too young for it, but for high school this year, I am using Stobaugh American history and Stobaugh American literature. I am actually really enjoying it because the author, James Stobaugh, has a clear Christian worldview but he encourages thinking (“Why are you on this side?”) rather than just saying “The US should never have entered the Vietnam War.” I really enjoy how he presents both sides (like pro-slavery and anti-slavery. He is obviously anti-slavery but he does present both arguments)

  6. […] Why did the US enter the Vietnam War? – A lesson plan designed for young elementary and high schoolers to do together. […]

  7. Karen Avatar

    I’m considering this lesson. Where are the documents that you gave students to analyze before creating a poster?

    1. If you look at the “materials required” there’s a link title handout, if you click on that, you’ll get the printout I gave the kids. There’s also links to more information in the handout.

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