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The Cold War in the 1950s U.S Homefront Lesson Plan

Ninth Grade Social Studies: U.S History
Michigan Curriculum Framework Content Standards and Benchmarks:
o USHG Era 8 Post World War II United States (19145-1989)
Unit Outcome: 8.1 Cold War and the United States/ 8.2 Domestic Policies
o Identify, analyze, and explain the causes, conditions, and impact of the Cold War
Era on the United States
o Examine, analyze, and explain demographic changes, domestic policies, conflicts
and tensions in Post-WWII America
Lesson Outcome: 8.1.2 Foreign Policy during the Cold War/ 8.2.2 Policy Concerning
Domestic Issues
o Analyze major domestic issues in the Post-WWII era and the policies designed to
meet the challenges by describing issues Americans such as domestic
anticommunism (McCarthyism)
The Learner Will
o Know and experience what McCarthyism was like

Accusations of communist spies

o Know how the Blacklist effected society and economy of the U.S

Many people were falsie put on the list

Many people went on strike and lost their family, friends and jobs because
of it.

Purpose of this Lesson

o The Cold War caused a severe hysteria during the 1950s on the U.S home front.
Senator Joseph McCarthy at this time led the HUAC (House Un-American
Committee) on a witch hunt against possible communist spies in U.S government,
military, and society. Students need to learn how this was an act against U.S
citizens rights guaranteed to them by the U.S constitution and how McCarthyism
ruined some peoples careers.

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Students also in this lesson will be involved in an activity to help

demonstrate what it was like to live during this time in concerns of if their
own neighbor were communist or not

o Students will participate in an activity called Is your Neighbor a Commie? The
activity is to get students to experience what it was like living during this time
period when people were concerned of a second red-scare causing them to turn on
each other.
o The homework assignment is for the students to go home and write about their
experience during the activity. In these response students will write about their
experience of being accused of having a red dot or how they felt accusing people
without having any information and did the students feel it was right for the sake
of the group to accuse their fellow classmates of having a red-dot?
Materials Needed
o The PowerPoint titled McCarthyism and Blacklisting located on the teachers
computer under the file U.S History.
o For a class size of twenty-five there needs to be fifteen blank index cards and 10
with a red dot that can only be seen on 1 side

If the red marker does bleed through the card, draw a thick black space to
cover it and then repeat this on all the cards so when the teacher hands
them out the students wont be able to tell whos a dot and who isnt yet.

o The students will begin quickly by attending their seats as I take attendance and
tell them that today they will be learning about Senator Joseph McCarthy and
Blacklisting and they will be partaking in a fun activity that will get them out of
their seats.
o Next I will start the PowerPoint presentation McCarthyism and Blacklisting

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o PowerPoint Outline

Senator Joseph McCarthy


Ask the students how they would feel if they knew someone was
being accused of something and you couldnt believe the
accusation to be true?


Ask if the students know what blacklisting is

Ask students who they would feel if their friends and family were
blacklisted? This will get them to make a personal connection to
the lesson

Hollywood Blacklist

o Following the PowerPoint I will explain to the students the activity they are

Activity: Is your Neighbor a Commie?

The purpose of this activity is to see what the hysteria was like
when fellow citizens would accuse people they knew of being a
communist with limited information

Each student will receive either a blank index card or a card with a
red dot on it



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In five minutes form as large of a group of blank index card people

as possible without revealing your true identity

Those with a red dot will be trying to hide their true identity and
blend in with blank index card people

The group with the most blank index card people will gain a point

Students who have a red dot and were able to stay in a blank index
card group will gain a point

Because no one will know each others true identity students will
have to accuse their fellow students of having a red dot without
any information

After five minutes each group will present their members and then
the class will reveal who was actually a blank card and who was
actually a red dot

o If time allows I will have the students do this activity twice, because some may be
confused during the first run.
o After students reveal how they felt about the activity and if they can understand
how people felt during this time in regards to McCarthyism which will lead into
their homework assignment for the night..