map of the cold war

Cold War Map of the World

This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can complete the Cold War map with your whole family together!

1st thru 4th grades
5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades

Layers of Learning Unit 4-15 cover
Unit 4-15: Cold War, U.S. Territories, Chemistry of Medicine, Free Verse

The Cold War map is a history exploration from Layers of Learning Unit 4-15 about the Cold War. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.

The Cold War was the time period from the end of WWII in 1945 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The struggle between western ideals of capitalism and eastern ideals of communism involved nearly every country on earth.

Journalists named the struggle “cold” because though there were wars with armies and bullets and tanks and planes, the two big powers, the US and the USSR, never fought an all out head to head war during these decades.  Instead they fought by supplying money and equipment to their allies and pawns, through intelligence and covert operations, and through public opinion.

They never fought each other directly because both countries had many nuclear weapons and they were both afraid of the results of unleashing these most terrible of bombs on the earth.

Step 1: Library Research

Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about he Cold War. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet Russia, Berlin Wall, or the Space Race. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

by Peter Sis

You will need to read this with your younger kids as it has some themes that may be difficult for young children. The author tells his true story of growing up in Communism, including suppression of religion, forced labor, families divided, and more. The book is targeted for kids and is by a beloved children’s author.

A Night Divided

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Historical novel. A family is suddenly separated when the Berlin Wall goes up overnight. Will they ever be reunited? Full of suspense and vivid detail.

The Spy and the Traitor

by Ben Macintyre

True life spy story about a KGB agent who turned and worked for MI-6 in Britain and the CIA agent and traitor who finally exposed him. Really gets into how intense the competition was between the sides during this time.

Step 2: Cold War Map

To complete the Cold War map you will need the printable map and colored pencils.

Cold War Map of the World
Click on the map to get the printable.

Use this map, below, as a key to color the countries of the world according to whose side they were on during the Cold War.

map of the Cold War colored

Step 3: Show What You Know

Write a report about the Cold War map you drew explaining what you learned about the map and what it means. Younger kids should write 3-5 sentences, middle grades write 2-3 paragraphs and high schoolers write 1-2 pages. Read your report aloud to an audience, using your map as a visual aid.

Additional Layers

Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.

Memorization Station

There were six pivotal events during the Cold War that it is worth remembering. Discuss each of these events and then commit them to memory.

  • 1948 – Berlin Airlift
  • 1950-53 Korean War
  • 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary
  • 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis
  • 1955-72 – Space Race
  • 1989 – Fall of the Berlin Wall

Additional Layer

The “Cold War Hot Spots” on the map above are places where actual armed conflicts broke out.  Learn about one or two of these hot wars during these time periods by looking up the history of the country.  Most people have at least heard of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, but did you know there was a war in Angola as well?

Additional Layer

What is NATO and what is the Warsaw Compact? Do these treaties still exist?

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