The Spanish American War

Learn about the Spanish American War and its results.


  • Students will be able to explain why the United States went to war with Spain.
  • Students will be able to describe the first battle of the Spanish American War.
  • Students will be able to describe Roosevelt’s ride up San Juan Hill and its results.
  • Students will be able to explain what happened to Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam when the Spanish American War ended.
  • Students will understand that Cuba and the Philippines are now independent countries while Puerto Rico and Guam remain territories of the United States.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade


  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

In 1896, Spain had two colonies in North America – Cuba and Puerto Rico. It also had several colonies in Asia. In Cuba, people had rebelled against Spain and reports of Spanish cruelty in Cuba reached the United States. Then in 1898, the American battleship Maine mysteriously blew up while visiting Cuba. While no one knew for sure why the ship exploded, Spain was blamed. The United States decided to go to war to free Cuba from Spain.

The first battle of the Spanish-American War was fought in 1898 in the Philippines, a Spanish colony in Asia. The Philippines is a group of islands in the western Pacific Ocean. On May 1, 1898, the American navy, led by the commander George Dewey, attacked the Philippines. After a week of fighting, Spain had lost nearly half of its navy. At the time, the Assistant Secretary of the navy was Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt quit his job and volunteered to lead a group of 17,000 troops called the “Rough Riders” into Cuba to fight the Spanish.

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