Stalin Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

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

With this lesson plan and materials from, you'll have everything you need to help your students better understand the life and times of Joseph Stalin, and the impact he made on 20th century history.

Lesson Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe the rise to power and life of Joseph Stalin
  • analyze Stalin's relationship with the West


30 minutes plus 40 minutes for the activity

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.

Key Terms

  • Joseph Stalin

Warm Up

  • Ask students to contemplate the following quote - 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'. Put another way, ask them to consider Churchill's defense of Stalin at the House of Commons - 'If Hitler were to invade Hell I would find something favorable to say about the devil'. How does this thinking inform our perspective on the Soviet Union?


  • Tell students they will we reading the lesson: Joseph Stalin: Biography, Facts & Timeline.
  • Read the section 'Joseph Stalin in History' and 'Beginnings'. Have them write down who Joseph Stalin was. Discuss:
    • Had Stalin not been in Russia, do you get the idea he would have been a Communist? Why or why not?
  • Read 'Changing sides' and 'Timeline'. Discuss:
    • Do you think that, given the events of the Cold War, it may have been better for the United States to invade the USSR after World War II? Why?
    • How might European history of the last 80 years been different had Stalin not been the Soviet leader during World War II?

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