Lesson Plan

Cuban Missile Crisis


In this 11-minute video and accompanying lesson plan students will analyze and evaluate the actions taken by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. The video will explore the history leading to the crisis, the events that nearly led to a nuclear war, and how the actions of leaders can lead to unknown consequences for their country and many other nations.

This video also examines how sixty years later, the United States and Russia are again in a risky standoff, this time over Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine. As the United States provides support to Ukraine, President Biden has said the conflict raises the “prospect of Armageddon’’ to the highest level since the Cuban missile crisis.

This story is featured in our webinar, “Kennedy and the Cold War: Berlin to Cuba and Beyond.”


Students will:

  • Identify actions by U.S. and Soviet leaders that led each side to react the way they did
  • Analyze reactions by each side and come up with ways to averted the crisis
  • U.S. History
  • Cold War
  • 1960s America
  • The Postwar Era (1945-1980)
  • America as a World Power
  • John F. Kennedy
  • U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Civics and Government
  • U.S. History
  • Russia
  • Soviet Union
For Teachers

Essential Questions

  • How do the actions of one leader/nation affect the actions of other nations?
  • To what level can leaders of a country control events once they have set them in motion?

Additional Resources

Transcript for "Putin’s Nuclear Threats Evoke Cold War Tensions of the Cuban Missile Crisis"Retro Report
U.S. readies $2 billion-plus Ukraine aid package with longer-range weaponsReuters
Expanded U.S. training for Ukraine forces begins in GermanyNPR
F-16s, longer-range missiles could help Ukraine beat Russia, U.S. general privately tells lawmakersPolitico
U.S. tells Ukraine it won’t send long-range missiles because it has few to sparePolitico
U.S. military inspectors in Ukraine to keep further track of weapons and equipmentNBC News
US Bipartisan Delegation Supports Sending Fighter Jets to UkraineVoice of America
US to Directly Sanction PutinAllSides
Sanctions Against Russia Could Make it Even Harder for Americans to Buy a CarForbes
Why America’s Far Right and Far Left Have Aligned Against Helping UkraineForeign Policy
Are Americans Growing Weary of Supporting Ukraine in War with Russia?Voice of America
Why the United States Must Stay the Course on UkraineThe Center for American Progress
One year into the Ukraine war — What does the public think about American involvement in the world?Brookings
Putin's Attempt to Rewrite Cold War HistoryRetro Report
The Complicated Ukraine-Russia War, Explained in Simple TermsReader's Digest
Ukraine: Conflict at the Crossroads of Europe and RussiaCouncil on Foreign Relations
9 big questions about Russia’s war in Ukraine, answeredVox
Four Western Provocations That Led to U.S.-Russia Crisis TodayCato Institute
Dictators and Civil Wars: The Cold War in Latin AmericaRetro Report
Convene the CounciliCivics

Apply civic virtues and democratic principles when working with others.

Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.

Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.

Analyze multiple and complex causes and effect of events in the past.

Questions? Tips? Concerns? Reach out to our Director of Education, David Olson: dolson@retroreport.com