Educator Resources

The War in Viet Nam: A Story in Photographs

Teaching Activities

Standards Correlations

This lesson correlates to the National History Standards.

  • Era 9 -Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
    • Standard 2C -Demonstrate understanding of the foreign and domestic consequences of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government.

  • Standard IV.B.1. -Explain the principal foreign policy positions of the United States and evaluate their consequences.

Constitutional Connection

This lesson relates to Article I, Section 8, which grants Congress powers to raise and support armies and make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

Cross-curricular Connections

Share this lesson with your history, language arts, and journalism colleagues.

Photograph Analysis

1) Share with students the photograph of Marines riding on an M-48 tank. Ask the students to study the photograph for 2 minutes. Then ask them to create a chart listing the people, objects, and actions in the photograph. Ask students to share with the class what they saw in the photograph. Direct students to answer the following questions:


  1. What can you infer from the photograph?
  2. What questions does this photograph raise in your mind?
  3. Where might you be able to find answers to your questions?
  4. How might you categorize this photograph? (Try to lead students to a category/topic they would be able to research relating to the war in Vietnam, such as battle tactics, weapons, tanks, or jungle warfare.)
  5. Create a caption for the photograph.

2) Divide students into small groups and distribute one of the remaining photographs to each group. The photographs can be viewed on, or downloaded and printed from, DocsTeach following the links below. Ask each group to analyze their photograph as they did in step 1. Each group should categorize the photograph as a topic that will be easy to research and generate two to three questions from the photograph. Topics might include land warfare, air warfare, Marines in Vietnam, and roles of women serving in Vietnam.

Research and Present

3) Using the questions generated from the photograph and the category they defined in step 2, instruct groups to conduct research in order to answer their questions and obtain information about the war in Vietnam relating to their category. Next, ask each group to create a presentation about their photograph and general topic. The format for each presentation should include a display of the photograph, an overview of the research they completed on their topic, and a reading of a caption they created for their photograph that was based on their research. Encourage students to be creative! Following the presentations, lead a class discussion on the foreign and domestic consequences of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Creative Writing

4) Direct students to take on the role of an exhibit curator who has selected these photographs to create an exhibit that will help people understand the foreign and domestic consequences of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Direct student groups to write an exhibit script (story) that incorporates all of the photographs. Students may then share their scripts and discuss how their exhibits compare or differ.

5) As an independent writing activity, ask students to write a review of one of the other group's exhibits.


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