The Lead-Up to World War II


US History (11th) The United States and World War II The Leadup to World War II
Students become acquainted with Adolf Hitler by watching a video. Then, they learn about the events leading up to the war in Europe, including Germany’s conquest of other countries and Mussolini’s rise to power. Next, they turn to Japan’s aggression against China and other Asian nations, culminating in its attack on Pearl Harbor. Then, they examine the American policy of neutrality. Finally, students create an infographic of important events and people leading up to the war.

This learning experience is designed for device-enabled classrooms. The teacher guides the lesson, and students use embedded resources, social media skills, and critical thinking skills to actively participate. To get access to a free version of the complete lesson, sign up for an exploros account.

1:1 Devices
Teacher Pack

The Pack contains associated resources for the learning experience, typically in the form of articles and videos. There is a teacher Pack (with only teacher information) and a student Pack (which contains only student information). As a teacher, you can toggle between both to see everything.

Here are the teacher pack items for The Lead-Up to World War II:

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Overview

In this experience, students become acquainted with Adolf Hitler by watching a video. Then, they learn about the events leading up to the war in Europe, including Germany’s conquest of other countries and Mussolini’s rise to power. Next, they turn to Japan’s aggression against China and other Asian nations, culminating in its attack on Pearl Harbor. Then, they examine the American policy of neutrality. Finally, students create an infographic of important events and people leading up to the war.

Students will collaborate in small groups for scene 5.

This experience contains a lot of content. You may choose to teach it over two sessions in order to spend adequate time on the various elements of the lead-up to World War II.

Objectives

  • Explain the rise of fascism in Europe and imperialism in Japan.
  • Identify the German actions that led to the outbreak of war.
  • Explain neutrality in U.S. foreign policy 1939–1941.


Many Americans think World War II began in 1941, but that’s only the year when the United States entered the war. It had already been underway in Europe since 1939, and in Asia earlier in the 1930s. In this experience, you’ll learn what led up to the war and what happened before the United States entered it.

Objectives

  • Explain the rise of fascism in Europe and imperialism in Japan.
  • Identify the German actions that led to the outbreak of war.
  • Explain neutrality in U.S. foreign policy 1939–1941.




Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler, c. June, 1940


At a distance of 75 years, most Americans today associate World War II with a fanatical dictator’s lust for world conquest and “racial purity.” That man was Adolf Hitler, the führer, or leader, of Nazi Germany. For a glimpse of his personality and background, watch World War II—The Rise of Hitler.

However, World War II was not caused only by Hitler. Fascism in Italy arose in the same era as Nazism in Germany. Fascism is a philosophy that considers the nation and often race above any individual, and includes a dictatorial government and the suppression of opposition. On the other side of the World, imperial Japan was trying to conquer China and much of the rest of Asia. All three nations committed aggression against peaceful neighboring countries. The three countries had different government systems and ideologies, but they were all totalitarian states—dictatorships. Together they formed the Axis Powers.


Now that you’ve had a brief introduction to the topic, what questions would you like to ask that could help you understand World War II? Write one or more questions.

Post your answer

Point out one or more questions that students can expect to answer as they go through the experience. 

You may wish to use the experience-wide resource War Breaks Out included in the Student Pack for your own and your students’ additional background information.


When everyone is ready to continue, unlock the next scene.

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The Complete List of Learning Experiences in The United States and World War II Unit.
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