World War II Battles

Contributor: Sarah Lerdal. Lesson ID: 11497

Wars tend to be won by a series of major battles. WW II involved a lot of countries and a lot of battles. In this lesson, you will research, and make a video about, one of the major battles of WW II!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Carefully look at the following cartoon drawn by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). During World War II, he drew many cartoons. Discuss with your parent or teacher the message you believe he is trying to send:

Welcome back to our US and WWII series.

If you missed or would like to review the previous US and WWII Related Lessons, find them in the right-hand sidebar.

Before writing many of his famous children's books, Dr. Seuss used cartoons and propaganda films to encourage people to get behind the war effort.

He was strongly opposed to appeasement, the policy of giving in to an enemy's demands. In the cartoon, he shows the United States perched on a tree, seemingly unbothered by the fact that Hitler and the Nazis are taking down all of Europe. The United States is shown to be ignorant, thinking that the Nazis will not bother America.

By the summer of 1942, the United States had joined the side of the Allies, who included various countries. Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and China were the major powers of the Allies. Japan, Italy, and Germany together were known as the Axis. This map shows the European countries in the Axis (all shades of gray) during 1941-1942:

Europe under Nazi domination

Image by Morgan Hauser, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

This lesson will investigate how the Allies turned the tide against the Axis.

Japanese general Hideki Tojo wanted control of the Western Pacific and Asia, Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler strove to stretch his empire across Europe while eliminating "inferior" peoples, and Italy's Benito Mussolini wanted to expand his authority into Africa.

To stop these leaders from achieving their goals, the Allies adopted a "Europe First" strategy. Their resources would first be focused on stopping Hitler and Mussolini. The plan to re-take Europe was long and arduous and resulted in many casualties.

You will now learn more about four of those battles. Take notes as you go through the videos and articles; you will use them later to review for a short assessment and make a video. For each resource, keep in mind (or write down!) the key events of the battle, in which country or countries it took place, and the outcome.

  • Watch the video, Battle of Stalingrad (A&E Television Networks, LLC), then read the article below the video.
  • Discover the main points of how the allies took North America back in Operation Torch: Allied Invasion of North Africa, by Williamson Murray for World WarII, courtesy of
  • Read the summary, Invasion of Sicily, from A&E Television Networks, LLC, to learn how the Allies caused the Axis to flee Italy.

As the Allies were driving out the Axis from Italy, German cities were being bombed. The Allied bombers participated in saturation bombing, also known as carpet bombing. Planes dropped large quantities of bombs in a short amount of time, attempting to inflict great damage. The photograph below depicts a saturation bombing in 1944:

468th Bombardment Group Boeing B-29-30-BW Superfortress 42-24494 "Mary Ann" (792d Bombardment Squadron)

Image by the United States Army Air Forces, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Now, watch D-Day - A Critical Moment in History (The Daily Conversation, below):

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Hitler attempted an unsuccessful counterattack at the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944-January 1945. Learn more about this battle by watching the video, Battle of the Bulge (A&E Television Networks, LLC).

During the month of April 1945, Mussolini was executed, Hitler committed suicide, and FDR died from an illness. Shortly thereafter, Americans celebrated V-E (Victory in Europe) Day. Now, America could fully focus its attention on Japan in the Pacific.

Take some time to review your notes.

Next, in the Got It? section, you will see if you can describe how these battles were important to the Allied war effort.

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