20th Century


Our 20th Century lesson plan teaches students about some of the important events and details of the 20th century and their continued impact today. Students learn relevant vocabulary and practice matching significant events with the year in which they happened.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to have students create a timeline that covers some events of the 20th century.

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What our 20th Century lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: 20th Century explores some of the important events and details of the 20th century and their impact on life today. This lesson reviews relevant vocabulary, such as century, decade, etc., as well as allows students the opportunity to share their current 20th century event knowledge with the group. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify some important events and details of the 20th century and their impact on life today. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are glue/paste, scissors, and the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. For an additional activity, you can have students create a timeline that covers some events of the 20th century. To add to the homework assignment, you can have students do additional research on one or more of the events and have them share that information with the class. You could also have students do the homework assignment in class or have them do the practice page for homework.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


The 20th Century

The 20th Century lesson plan includes three pages of content. A century is one hundred years or 36,000 days. The 20th century was 1901-2000. We can break it down into ten decades, ten years long each. Many important events happened during this century that changed lives and history.


During the first decade, from 1901 to 1910, the Wright brothers created airplanes and had their first flight in 1903. This was the beginning of people being able to quickly cross the country and the world. Some other important events in this decade include the first baseball World Series, the construction of the Panama Canal, the invention of the electric washing machine, and the invention of plastic.

From 1911-1920, they invented the Oreo cookie! More importantly, World War I began in 1914 and ended in 1919. 10 million military people died and many civilians died as well. The United States entered the war in 1917 and declared war on Germany. The peace treaty signed at the end of the war caused controversy. Some people blame it for setting things up for World War II. During this decade, we got both traffic lights and daylight saving time as well.

Medicine became much better in the decade from 1921-1930. This time period saw the discovery of both insulin (1922) and penicillin (1928). Both of these saved millions of lives. The Ford car company also introduced the 40-hour work week in 1926. In 1927, they made the first phone call from the U.S. to Europe. The Winter Olympics started in 1924. The invention of both bubble gum and sliced bread happened in 1928. However, the end of the decade saw the start of the Great Depression in 1929. It lasted into the 1940s and changed the way people lived and spent money.


At the beginning of the decade from 1931-1940 the National Anthem became the official song of America. Also in this decade, Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic, scientists split the atom, Prohibition ended, the Dust Bowl happened, and they created the board game Monopoly. World War II began in 1939. They also released the movie Wizard of Oz.

From 1941-1950, many interesting things happened. They invented Cheerios and M&Ms in 1941. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. This event killed more than 2,400 people and caused the United States to declare war on Japan the next day. On June 6, 1944, World War II ended. The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan a year later, killing thousands of civilians. Some inventions from this decade include the T-shirt, ballpoint pens, and computers.

In the first part of the decade from 1951-1960, they introduced Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The Korean War also started during this time. They invented many new things during this decade, like the color TV, velcro, and seat belts. The first McDonalds and Disneyland opened. NASA started its space program. Finally, they discovered new medicines like the polio vaccine.

In the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement began. A man assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, five years before his own assassination in 1968. The Vietnam War started this decade as well, and the U.S. sent troops over in 1965. We also had the first Super Bowl and heart transplant during this decade. The Beatles started making music and a man named Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon.


From 1971-1980, the U.S. left Vietnam (1973). President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 and they founded Microsoft in 1975. In 1976, they released the first Apple computer and in 1977, the first Star Wars movie came out. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion.

During the next decade, in 1981, someone tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, they appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court, they identified AIDS, and IBM introduced the first personal computer. Also in this decade, NASA sent two women into space. In 1986, however, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. This decade also saw the first Pac-Man video game, the movie E.T., Cabbage Patch Kids, Halley’s Comet (1986) and the invention of the internet (1989).

The last decade of the 20th century happened from 1991-2000. The Cold War ended in 1992, but Operation Desert Storm began. Someone bombed the World Trade Center in 1994, seven years before 9/11. Also in the 90s: they founded eBay and the Million Man March (1995), cloned the first sheep (1996), and released the first Harry Potter book (1997).

Many events happened during the 20th century which had a huge impact on people’s lives and will continue to impact us for many years to come.


The 20th Century lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For the activity worksheet, students will cut out different 20th century events and will place them next to the correct year. They will then write a brief summary of each event using the internet or other sources.


The practice worksheet asks students to explain how different important events from the 20th century had an impact on society in America. They can use the internet or other sources for help. For each event, they will answer the question “How has this changed America?”


For the homework assignment, students will read a list of notable events and will write in the correct decade for each.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the activity worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Easy to Use

This lesson was fun and educational. Its so easy to print and use

Alita M.

20th century

5 star review My 3rd grader loves the lessons provided by Clarendon They are easy to follow and great as a base for our lessons


Great Videos!!

I started my 3rd grade son watching these videos when we started distance learning in March. They are well done, very informative and he enjoys watching them. School is out, but I am still having him watch one every day!

Melissa C.

Engaging and thoughtful

Good resource but research can be time consuming. Students must be given plenty of time to find the information. We eventually created a document with sources to minimize the time spent on research. Would use this again but would likely make modifications.

Teresa M.


I like how easily I can download and print out school work curriculum and I get to choose which I need