Spanish-American War Lesson for Kids: Causes & Summary

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

The Spanish-American War started in 1898 when the United States declared war on Spain. In this lesson, discover the causes of the Spanish-American War, learn about significant war battles, and find out the results of the end of the war.

Spanish Exploration

Can you imagine a time when there was no New York City or Chicago? Centuries ago, not only were there no major cities in the United States, there wasn't even a United States at all! In the 1400s, different countries began to explore areas of North America, including the country of Spain. The Spanish established a large empire, which means they gained control of many areas. They ruled over what is now Cuba, Puerto Rico, and islands in the Philippines.

Spanish explorers sailed the Atlantic Ocean to find land for Spain.
Santa Maria

The Spanish maintained control over these areas for hundreds of years. However, eventually the residents of these lands began to want independence. In fact, in the mid-1800s fighters from Cuba battled with the Spanish to try to gain freedom for the area. The areas in the Philippines that were controlled by the Spanish also sought independence.

Interest from the United States

By the 1800s the United States had been formed, and this new country was very close to Cuba and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico decided to become an ally with the U.S., which meant that they would stand together and have a friendly relationship. The United States was also very interested in gaining control of Cuba. The land and climate of Cuba were excellent for growing sugar, so the United States wanted to buy Cuba from Spain. This was not a popular idea with the Spanish, and tension began to mount between the two countries.

Soldiers from the United States who fought during the Spanish-American War
Spanish American War

War Is Declared

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898. American troops were sent to the Philippines, where they eventually overcame the city of Manila. Several months later, American troops were sent to Cuba and they launched an attack on the Spanish. After several violent battles, the Spanish ultimately surrendered to the United States.

Although the Spanish-American War did not last very long, there were intense battles between Spain and the United States.
Spanish American War

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