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Timeline: A Pearl Harbor Activity

With this online activity, students travel back in time to read about the key events leading up to Japan's surprise attack on America.


3–5, 6–8

Activity Type

  • Computer Lab Activities

Scholastic’s Timeline: A Pearl Harbor Activity (grades 5–8) helps students understand the historical events that led to the day President Franklin said would “live in infamy.”

On the interactive timeline, students can click on key dates to read what was happening in Japan, America, and beyond.

  • 1600s–1853: Japan is a closed-off society until it signs a trade treaty in 1853 with several nations, including America.
  • 1860s: Japan becomes a strong and prosperous nation under the leadership of a new emperor.
  • 1898: America becomes a “Pacific Power,” claiming the islands of Hawaii while Japan seeks its own Pacific empire.
  • 1929: The New York Stock Exchange crashes, leading to the Great Depression in America, while Japan’s economy also struggles.
  • 1937: China and Japan go to war. America protests on the side of China, but does not get involved. Meanwhile, tensions rise in Europe.
  • 1940: Japan responds to America by joining Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the Tripartite Pact. President Roosevelt then seizes Japanese money and property in the U.S. and places an embargo on them.
  • Fall, 1941: Japan prepares for war and sends a warning to the United States.
  • December 7, 1941: A warning does not reach Pearl Harbor in time, and Japanese bombs catch Pearl Harbor by surprise.

Learning Objectives

During this part of the Attack on Pearl Harbor project, students will:

  • Be able to explain the sequence of events leading to, during, and following Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941
  • Use a timeline to understand historical events in relationship to one another
  • Analyze the influence of geographic location and geographic features on political events

Susan Cheyney

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