When Texas Saw Red: The Cold War Experience

Social Studies, Grades 3 - 5

Through the analysis of primary source archival footage from TAMI’s online exhibit, “When Texas Saw Red,” students will demonstrate an understanding of the Cold War period that spanned nearly half a century.  Students will explore the politics of the atomic bomb and the policy of containment, propagated paranoia related to the spread of communism, the nuclear arms race and détente, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall and decline of the USSR.  The Cold War period remains relevant today; its social, economic, and political impact on the United States and, more locally on Texas, requires critical examination and reflection.

Teachers will take students on a “guided tour” of “When Texas Saw Red,” where students will analyze various primary sources to better understand the events and themes of the Cold War.

 

  • Prior Knowledge Prior Knowledge
  • Hook Hook
  • Lesson Lesson
  • Independent Practice Independent Practice
  • Resources Resources
  • TEKS TEKS
  • Worksheets Worksheets
  • Lesson Plan Use Lesson Plan Use
  1. The following lesson assumes students are aware of wars in the 20 thcentury and their consequences.
  2. Students should have some familiarity with weapons and the atomic bomb, understanding its devastation during WWII.
  3. This lesson assumes students know the differences between democracy and communism in the U.S. and USSR.
  4. Students should be aware of the importance of safety drills and routines at school.
  1. Assess students’ prior knowledge by asking them what they know about 20 thcentury wars and weapons, such as the atomic bomb in WWII and the Cold War.
  2. Talk about what the “Cold War” era generally with your class; discuss the impact of the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Japan to end WWII and the weapon’s impact on the world thereafter.
  3. To highlight key Cold War terms, students will use the provided  Cold War Vocabulary Worksheet (Grades 3 – 5)  to define Cold War terms. Have students reference their textbooks or other approved sources to define terms individually or in a group. Use the provided  Cold War Teacher’s Guide  to assist students.
  1. Once students have completed their vocabulary lists, ask for volunteers to define a few terms aloud. Check students’ understanding, clarify definitions, and give examples to enrich their understanding. (Suggestion: draw a timeline on the board with key dates and terms. Then call upon students to define Cold War vocabulary.)
  2. Tell your students that they will be visiting an online exhibit today. Take them on a “guided tour” of “When Texas Saw Red” using a variety of visual and audiovisual primary sources to teach them about this era.  
  3. Tell them they should be writing down their observations and reflections for a class discussion. Make sure students have paper and a pencil for note taking during the guided tour.
  4. Begin the “When Texas Saw Red” exhibit - available at  https://texasarchive.org/texassawred/
  5. Describe each section of the exhibit to your class.  Show the following films and pause occasionally to ask them to respond to the guided questions below. Make sure students are critically viewing and understanding these films in their reflective writing responses. Encourage students to relate films to their vocabulary lists.

“When Texas Saw Red” exhibit sections:

The Atomic Bomb and Containment

Video – Duck and Cover (beginning through 5:09)

  • This video was part of a government effort to teach civil defense in schoolsDiscuss with your students why the video was made, what were the main concerns about the atomic bomb that the filmmakers show, and how was it different than other safety threats. What do the film makers not talk about?

Crisis! Hysteria!

Video – The Port Arthur Story (beginning through 5:01)

  • Discuss the differences between communism and democracy. After watching the video, have your students explain what they think is going on at this time in Port Arthur, Texas, and the United States. Discuss why the people in the interviews wanted to label the picketers as ‘communists.’ Explain the Red Scare.

The Nuclear Arms Races Leads to Détente

Video – The Protected School

  • Talk with your students about what it would be like to go to school underground. Discuss why the school was built and why the city of Laredo would have invested so much in building it instead of a conventional school. What does the building of this school say about the build-up of nuclear arms at the time? Were people thinking this was going to be a long-term or short-term struggle?

New Movements and New Fronts

Video – The Congressman Charles Wilson Collection – Eyewitness News and Answers

  • Talk about the Cold War spreading to Asia and the Middle East. Discuss why Congressman Wilson focuses so much on Russia in this video instead of fighters in the Middle East.  Explain the struggle for world dominance and the ‘domino effect.’ Ask students to think about current issues in the Middle East and how they relate to this era.

The Fall of a Wall and an Empire

Video – President Ronald Reagan's Speech at the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987

  • Discuss with your students the history of the city of Berlin in the Cold War (the creation of the wall, the division in the city, the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan). After watching the speech, does Reagan see the Cold War as being over? What does he feel will be the end of the Cold War? Discuss. 

Write a descriptive letter to a friend

Instruct students to write a personal letter to a friend describing facets of the Cold War based upon a variety of primary sources viewed and discussed in class.  Make sure they use at least five key Cold War terms from their vocabulary lists in their descriptive letters. Have them think about what it was like to live during this time by describing their life at home and school in the Cold War.

Films

 

Resources

  • Brennan, Mary. Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace: Conservative Women and the Crusade against Communism. University Press of Colorado, 2008.
  • Carleton, Don. Red Scare: Right-Wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in Texas. Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985.
  • Crile, George. Charlie Wilson’s War. New York: Grove Press, 2003.
  • Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: a New History. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.
  • May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books, 2008.
  • Tindall, George Brown and David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History, Ninth Edition, New York: Norton, 2012.
  • https://texasarchive.org/texassawred/: Texas Archive of the Moving Image “When Texas Saw Red”
  • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/: PBS American Experience“Race for the Superbomb”
  • http://www.coldwar.org/: The Cold War Museum
  • http://www.trumanlibrary.org: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

Grade 3, Social Studies

1A – Describe how individuals, events, and ideas have changed communities, past and present

3A – Use vocabulary related to chronology, including past, present, and future times

3B – Create and interpret timelines

3C – Apply the terms year, decade, and century to describe historical times

7C – Explain the concept of a free market as it relates to the U.S. free enterprise system

9A – Describe the basic structure of government in the local community, state, and nation

11A – Identify characteristics of good citizenship, including truthfulness, justice, equality, respect for oneself and others, responsibility in daily life, and participation in government by educating oneself about the issues, respectfully holding public officials to their word, and voting

17A – Research information, including historical and current events, and geographic data, about the community and world, using a variety of valid print, oral, visual, and Internet resources

17B – Sequence and categorize information

17C – Interpret oral, visual, and print material by identifying the main idea, distinguishing between fact and opinion, identifying cause and effect, and comparing and contrasting

17D – Use various parts of a source, including the table of contents, glossary, and index as well as keyword Internet searches, to locate information

17E – Interpret and create visuals, including graphs, charts, tables, timelines, illustrations, and maps

18A – Express ideas orally based on knowledge and experiences

18B – Use technology to create written and visual material such as stories, poems, pictures, maps, and graphic organizers to express ideas

18C – Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation

Grade 4, Social Studies

5A – Identify the impact of various issues and events on life in Texas such as urbanization, increased use of oil and gas, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II

11A – Describe the development of the free enterprise system in Texas

11C – Give examples of the benefits of the free enterprise system such as choice and opportunity

12F – Explain the impact of American ideas about progress and equality of opportunity on the economic development and growth of Texas

18B – Identify leadership qualities of state and local leaders, past and present

21A – Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; documents; and artifacts to acquire information about the United States and Texas

21C – Organize and interpret information in outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps

21D – Identify different points of view about an issue, topic, historical event, or current event

22A – Use social studies terminology correctly

22B – Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication

22C – Express ideas orally based on research and experiences

22D – Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies

22E – Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation

Grade 5, Social Studies

5A – Analyze various issues and events of the 20th century such as industrialization, urbanization, increased use of oil and gas, the Great Depression, the world wars, the civil rights movement, and military actions

5B – Analyze various issues and events of the 21st century such as the War on Terror and the 2008 presidential election

5C – Identify the accomplishments of individuals and groups such as Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Dwight Eisenhower, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Colin Powell, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who have made contributions to society in the areas of civil rights, women's rights, military actions, and politics

7A – Describe a variety of regions in the United States such as political, population, and economic regions that result from patterns of human activity

11A – Describe the development of the free enterprise system in colonial America and the United States

11B – Describe how the free enterprise system works in the United States

11C – Give examples of the benefits of the free enterprise system in the United States

13E – Explain the impact of American ideas about progress and equality of opportunity on the economic development and growth of the United States

19B – Identify past and present leaders in the national government, including the president and various members of Congress, and their political parties

19C – Identify and compare leadership qualities of national leaders, past and present

24A – Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; documents; and artifacts to acquire information about the United States

24B – Analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions

24C – Organize and interpret information in outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps

24D – Identify different points of view about an issue, topic, or current event

24E – Identify the historical context of an event

25A – Use social studies terminology correctly

25B – Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication

25C – Express ideas orally based on research and experiences

25D – Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies

25E – Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation

All content in this lesson plan is copyright of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Use of this lesson plan is free to educators for classroom use. It may not be reproduced without credit or used for commercial purposes.