Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-12, students explore BrainPOP features and resources to learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor, including why it happened and its effects. Then using what they learn, students will produce a newsreel depicting the events leading up to  and including the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  2. Watch a BrainPOP movie about Pearl Harbor.
  3. Use the Make-a-Map tool to identify the sequence of events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  4. Create and present a newsreel about Pearl Harbor.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Movie making software (optional)
  • Cameras for making movie (optional)


Lesson Procedure:

  1. Draw a KWL chart on the whiteboard. Activate students’ prior knowledge about the attack on Pearl Harbor by asking them what they know about it, such as who attacked, why, and what was the outcome. Jot their responses in the “What I KNOW” (K) column. Then ask what they would like to know about Pearl Harbor, and write their responses in the middle “What I WANT to Know” (W) column . Explain that you’ll return to the KWL at the end of the lesson to fill in the “What I LEARNED” (L) column.
  2. Project the movie Pearl Harbor on the whiteboard. Read aloud, or invite a volunteer to read, the description that appears along the bottom of the screen.  Then show the movie to the the whole class once through without pausing.
  3. Tell students that today they will produce a newsreel about Pearl Harbor. Ask students to share what they know about newsreels. Then explain that newsreels were how news was delivered in the 1940s, at the time of Pearl Harbor. Describe how newsreels were short films shown in movie theaters that told of the news and current events. Show a few examples of newsreels on the whiteboard from the The Newsreel Archive collection from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
  4. Tell students that when producing a newsreel, just like when writing a newspaper article, they need to identify the 5 Ws and H about the event: who, what, when, why and how.  Having answers to each of these questions will enable them to summarize the event. Working with a partner, have students watch the BrainPOP movie Pearl Harbor again, this time from within Make-a-Map. As they watch, have them take answer the 5Ws and H in Make-a-Map. If students prefer, they can watch the movie as they take notes offline.
  5. For more information about Pearl Harbor, beyond the movie, encourage students to read the Related Readings.  
  6. After partners have taken notes, they are ready to create their newsreels. If you have access to movie making software, students can produce their newsreels this way, selecting stills and animations from reliable resources such as the National Archives, AP Archive, and Library of Congress. If you don’t have movie making software, students can create their newsreels using video cameras or even offline.
  7. You may have partners share their newsreels with the whole class, or to another pair depending on time.
  8. Finally, bring the class together as a whole group again. Display the KWL chart from the beginning. Ask students what they learned about Pearl Harbor that they hadn’t known before.

Extension Activities:

Challenge students to put their knowledge of Pearl Harbor to the test by playing Time Zone X: Pearl Harbor.

Partners prepare for and conduct a mock interview with Franklin D. Roosevelt.