Navajo Code Talkers Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Use this lesson plan to help your students understand the contributions of the Navajo to the American effort to win World War II. Examine the methods used by Navajo Code Talkers through an interactive activity.

Lesson Objectives

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

  • analyze the methods used by Navajo Code Talkers
  • describe their contributions to American victory in the Second World War


About 1 hour

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Key Terms

  • Philip Johnston
  • Navajo
  • Type One Code


  • Engage student's prior knowledge by asking if they have used secret codes or signals when playing sports to communicate plays without their opponents finding out. Ask if they think this would be useful in battle.
  • Read the sections 'Amerindian and U.S. Wars' and 'Background' in the lesson Navajo Code Talkers: Definition, History, & Facts. Discuss:
    • What made Navajo so attractive?
  • Read the sections 'Setting up the Code' and 'Effectiveness'. Discuss:
    • Had the Japanese had Navajo speakers, do you think they could have figured out the code?
    • Why do you think that the code talkers were able to transmit messages faster than other codes?
    • Why do you think the code-talkers were used in the Pacific? Remember that Germany had many skilled linguists who had studied Amerindian languages.
  • Read the Lesson Summary section. Answer questions and ensure understanding of key vocab.

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