American Imperialism in Latin America & the Caribbean Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is designed to explore American Imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Students will explain American policies, as well as cause and effect relationships related to imperialism in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson about American Imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean, students will be able to:

  • Describe American policies that have shaped the U.S. position as a world superpower.
  • Define and use content-specific vocabulary to describe American Imperialism.
  • Summarize the cause and effect of political, economic, and military policies in the Caribbean and Latin America.


60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


  • American Century
  • annexation
  • contiguous
  • deployment
  • dictator
  • Dollar Diplomacy
  • expansion
  • imperialist
  • isolationism
  • Missionary Diplomacy
  • Monroe Doctrine
  • non-colonial
  • occupy
  • Panama Canal
  • Platt Amendment
  • provisions
  • Roosevelt Corollary
  • sovereignty


  • Activate prior knowledge by asking students how the United States exerts power over other countries.
  • Pass out American Imperialism in Latin America & the Caribbean to the students.
  • Watch the 'Recap of American Imperialism' portion of the video. Pause to discuss the following:
    • What role did the Monroe Doctrine play in establishing the United States as a superpower?
  • Watch 'The Platt Amendment' portion of the video. Pause at 2:37.
  • Have students do a 5-minute quick write that discusses how the Platt Amendment strengthened the Monroe Doctrine. Give students the opportunity to share their thoughts with the class.
  • Watch 'The Roosevelt Corollary' segment of the video. Pause at 3:58.
  • Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with a newspaper article that describes a current event regarding U.S. foreign policy. Have students in each group discuss the article and highlight the U.S. response in relation to the Roosevelt Corollary. Have each group share the information in the article and their discussions with the class.
  • Continue watching the 'Dollar Diplomacy and Missionary Diplomacy' sections of the video. Pause to create a Venn diagram with the class that compares Dollar Diplomacy with Missionary Diplomacy. Include definitions, examples, and consequences in the diagram.
  • Watch the remainder of the video.
  • Discuss the meaning of each of the vocabulary words.
  • Pass out the printable worksheet to students.
  • Have students complete the worksheet independently. Check answers together as a class.

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