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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Canadian Young People and the Cold War

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Social Studies
Grades: Grades 6-8
Duration: 1 lesson
Purpose: To understand the impact of the Cold War on young people
Summary: Students reflect on and discuss how the Cold War affected the lives of young people in Canada, both at home and at school.

Before Exploring

Ask the students to give examples of some major world events occurring in their lifetime that have exerted a major impact on them (for example, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, events in the Middle East, the 2002 oil spill off the coast of Spain, and other global conflicts or environmental events). List the events, then ask for words that describe their response to those events. List the words beside each event.

As a class, discuss, compare, and analyze how students react to events that happen in North America, events that happen elsewhere in the world, and events they view on television news. Do their responses change if the events happen far away but have an impact on them at home?

Inform them that they will be using the website to find out how the Cold War affected young Canadians of their age group during the decades when their parents were growing up.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students browse the Cold War Culture topic on the CBC Digital Archives website for as much time as they wish to learn the impact of the Cold War on Canadian young people. They can focus their browsing on the following topics:

The dropping of the first atomic bombs ("Fat Man" and "Little Boy") on Japan in 1945 Calgary's planned


Family life in a backyard fallout shelter

Canadian teens learn the "abcs of survival" at civil defence college

"Nuclear warfare can be fun" and "Three little fallout shelters": Humorous views of the Cold War

"Duck and cover" exercises in Canadian schools

Emergency Measures Organizations warnings (air raid sirens, test alerts)

When they are finished researching, students can form groups to discuss what they have learned. Each group should then prepare and present a brief summary of the interesting and important information they obtained from the site, including a description of what they think it must have been like for a young person growing up in Canada during the Cold War era.

Revisit and Reflect

Following the group presentations, ask students to compare their thinking about the impact of the Cold War on young people in past decades to the ways in which serious global events and conflicts affect young people today. Do students have the same worries and insecurities that many young Canadians had then? In what ways do they think the international situation is different from and similar to the Cold War era today? What are students' major concerns about the future? What lessons about the impact of global events on young people might we take from the past?


Have students prepare and present an oral or written account of a day in the life of a young Canadian growing up during the Cold War. Students' work should detail how the main events, issues, and concerns of this period would have impacted on the life of young Canadians, both at home and at school.