Communism Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Are you looking for a new way to teach students about communism? This video lesson grabs the attention of your students while defining and exemplifying communism. A small group activity takes mastery even further.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define communism
  • outline the principles of communism
  • explain the plight of those living in a communist regime


1 to 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


  • As a warm up, begin by asking students how they would feel if no matter what they did or how hard they worked (or didn't work), they would earn a grade of C in this course. Yes, each and every student will receive a C regardless of effort. Write some of their feelings on the board. What do they think are some potential issues, benefits and risks that might result from this change to the class grading structure? Write these ideas on the board as well.
  • Tell the students that today they will be exploring communism, possibly overview definition.
  • Show the video lesson Communism: Definition & Examples, pausing at 1:20.
  • Put students into small groups, size can vary depending on the class. Give these groups an allotted time to use the internet to research communist countries.
  • Assign each group one country to feature (China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam). They should gather facts about the professions, lifestyle, health and fulfillment of the country's citizens. They should also consider the country's financial status and military strength.
  • Have students compare their selected country to the United States of America.
  • When all students have completed gathering facts about their selected country, have them share their findings with the class. What themes do the students see with the practices of communistic countries? Write these on the board. How do these themes compare to the original risks and benefits that were written on the board at the start of the lesson?
  • Play the video lesson, pausing at 4:28.
    • Does the communism envisioned by Marx reflect the reality for the citizens of the countries the student's researched?
    • Does everyone work to their ability?
    • Does everyone have everything they need?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson. How do the communist countries line up with the different versions of communism featured in the video lesson?
  • Have students reconvene in their small groups to list the pros and cons as they see them for both communism and capitalism. Discuss these lists as a class.

Discussion Questions

  • Is it really possible to combine principles of communism with those of capitalism?
  • How different might our lives be if America was a communist country?


  • Have students research the story of an individual who has escaped a communist country. What was his/her motivation for doing so? What were the risks and benefits?
  • Assign one type of communism for student research. Have them conduct a case study of the person who created that form of communism (e.g. Marx, Mao, and so on).

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