Causes of World War II Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

World War II was fought over more than the Holocaust, and it started well before Pearl Harbor. With this lesson plan, your students can see how both of those were just parts in a much bigger conflict.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, your students should be able to:

  • recognize the role of fascism in the start of World War II
  • recognize the roles played by East Asian countries in the lead-up to World War II
  • analyze how many different events built up to create the conditions of World War II


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.


Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.


For the activity portion of the lesson, you'll need the following materials:

  • Set of dominoes
  • Small sticky notes (or regular-sized sticky notes cut in half)

Key Vocabulary

  • Nye Committee
  • Fascist
  • Rape of Nanking

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