Use the smaller-sized text Use the larger-sized text Use the very large text

The Power of "Un"-- Unpopular, Unrest, Unsuccessful

By Nancy Mussetter
Standards: 4.1, 4.4, 4.8
Grade Level: Elementary
Topic: World Wars and Conflicts

Lesson Plan Text:

Introduction/Background:  The Vietnam War was the costliest and longest war that the United States has been in.  The Johnson administration claimed that the reason the U.S. was in the war was to stop Communism in Southeast Asia.  It was never declared a ¿war¿ but rather a ¿conflict¿.  Many people at home opposed the war and let their feelings be known through protests.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison gained a reputation for being one of the nation¿s most radical campuses.  Teach-ins, large forums for discussions between students and faculty, were organized as were protest marches and the burning of draft cards.  The peace movement on campus lost credibility when a researcher on the campus was killed.  The U.S. government began pulling out of the war when it became obvious that the North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces were gaining control.

Lesson Objectives:  The students will¿
1) work as a group to protest an unpopular situation.
2) read letters from Wisconsinites serving in Vietnam.
3) construct a tally graph.
4) infer ways Vietnam and Iraq wars are the same and different.

Information/Resources:  Book¿Letters Home from Wisconsin Men and Women Serving in Vietnam¿tells the story of the war through letters written by men and women soldiers serving in Vietnam to their families and friends back home in Wisconsin

Suggested Activities:
1) Divide the class into 4 groups and present each group with one of the following hypothetical and unpopular situations:

a. The lunch room is going to stop serving anything with sugar in it.
b. Students who live less than 5 miles from school will not have bus service.
c. All gym and recess classes will be cancelled.
d. All students will be given 5 hours of homework each night.

As a group they need to devise a plan to protest the proposed changes.  After each group has come up with a plan, they share it with the rest of the class. Discuss pros and cons of each plan.

2) Introduce the Vietnam War by finding the country on a world map.  Give each student an 8 ½ by 11 inch piece of paper and have them draw the shape of Vietnam in the center of the paper.  Provide students with the following facts to be put on lines drawn out from the shape of Vietnam to make a ¿Fact Web.¿

a. longest and costliest war
 i. 58,000 Americans died and more than 300,000 wounded
 ii. 1959-1975

b. Fought to stop Communism in Southeast Asia
 i. North Vietnam supported by the Soviet Union and China
 ii. South Vietnam allied with the United States
 iii. Never declared a war but was a ¿conflict¿
 iv. Protests formed to show opposition to the ¿War¿
 v. United States failed to reach its goal.

3) Assign students to read book.

4) Explain that of the 57,000 Wisconsinites who served in Southeast Asia, 1,239 did not return.

5) Take a field trip to a local cemetery (or assign as homework).  Divide the cemetery into 4 sections and have students work in the same groups that they were in at the beginning of the lesson.  Use the information from the gravestones to complete a tally graph showing ages, gender, and military experience.(* See attached form in Additional Information section of plan).


protest¿to express disapproval
opposition¿to resist or go against

Conclusion:  Discuss cemetery findings and conclusions that can be made about the impact wars have had in Wisconsin.

Assessment:  The students will be assessed by¿
1) teacher observation of participation of group work.
2) class discussion.
3) written response to the following¿
The war in Vietnam is like the war in Iraq because__________________.
They are different because______________________________________.
4)  written conclusion about information attained at the cemetery.

Additional Information:  See next page for form to use at the cemetery to complete a tally graph.

Possible Lesson Extensions:  Ask students to write three questions they would like to ask a Vietnam War veteran.  Invite a Vietnam veteran to class to share his/her experiences and feelings about the war based on the questions the students wrote.

Tally Graph

Deaths in                 Age at Death                   Gender                    Military Experience
Following time                                                 (M or F)                 (yes or no)






What conclusion might be drawn about the effect war had in Wisconsin based on the information collected at the cemetery and recorded on the tally graph?




Search lesson plans

Browse all lesson plans

  • Questions about this page? Email us
  • Email this page to a friend
select text size Use the smaller-sized textUse the larger-sized textUse the very large text